Like the arrival of the smartphone, electric cars are causing a generational divide. According to a new study from the ‘Drive Change. Drive Electric.’ campaign, Millennials are more accepting of electric cars than Baby Boomers in the Northeast. While more than half of all people surveyed are considering an electric car when shopping for a new vehicle, this increases to 63 percent when considering only Millennials and falls to 38 percent with Baby Boomers alone. If either group follows through on its level of interest in electric vehicles, the Northeast will see a huge spike in electric vehicle sales, which currently make up about two percent of new vehicle purchases in the region.
“To date, electric car sales have been dominated by Gen-X men,” said Julia Rege, Senior Director, Environment & Energy, at the Association of Global Automakers. “However, with two out of three Millennials considering an electric car for their next vehicle, we could see a substantial shift in the marketplace. This promising news suggests that we are on the brink of a technology revolution that will ultimately be driven by Millennials. Baby Boomers may take longer to learn about this great technology and get comfortable with it, but they won’t be far behind.”
While there are still some barriers and misperceptions to address, there are also key findings from the study that inspire confidence that electric cars are on track to become the norm for drivers of all ages. Both Millennials and Boomers overwhelmingly agree—despite some stark generational differences on electric car knowledge—electric is the future of automobiles. Both generations are also eager to see more electric vehicle models introduced. “Although we know the future is bright for electric cars, the need for education and awareness of the benefits of driving electric has reached a critical point,” said Elaine O’Grady, Policy and Program Director at the Northeast States for Coordinated Use Management. “Through the ‘Drive Change. Drive Electric.’ campaign, states and automakers are working together to increase awareness, instill confidence and make the switch to electric an easy choice for drivers of all ages today.”
The study also gleaned important information about purchase motivators and barriers for electric cars. One of the biggest purchase motivators for both generations (Baby Boomers – 81 percent; Millennials – 84 percent) is the national and state financial incentive programs which includes tax credits and rebates. One of the biggest barriers to purchase, regardless of age, is that people are worried there is a lack of charging infrastructure. In the Northeast, 83 percent of people surveyed believe that there are not enough charging stations available – more Baby Boomers (87 percent) agree with this than Millennials (79 percent). However, almost half of the survey respondents have noticed an increase of available charging stations in their local areas.
“In the Northeast, hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in building out charging infrastructure to meet growing demand. In the last year alone, the number of public charging stations increased by more than 20 percent in the Northeast, and there are plans to add even more stations in 2019,” continued Elaine O’Grady. “Also, people without electric cars often don’t realize that most charging takes place at home overnight. In any event, the fact that people are noticing more charging stations in their communities is encouraging and a clear indicator that we are making significant progress toward raising awareness and building confidence that public charging stations are available.”
Despite dramatic technology advances made by automakers, the study also found that consumers are still worried about the range of electric vehicles. In fact, eight out of ten people surveyed said they have concerns about the distance you can drive an electric vehicle before needing to re-charge it. This finding points to the need to increase consumer knowledge about electric cars because concerns about range can easily be addressed by choosing the technology and model that is best suited to the customer’s needs.
“Automakers offer over 40 models of electric cars in almost every vehicle segment from SUVs to sedans and many more are coming over the next few years,” said Steve Douglas, Senior Director, Energy & Environment, at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Customers can also choose from battery electric vehicles that can go 250 miles on a single charge, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that offer a combined range from electricity and gasoline to up to 600 miles, and fuel cell electric vehicles that can go up to 350 miles on a single tank of hydrogen.”
Noteworthy Statistics from the ‘Drive Change. Drive Electric.’ Study:
- Electric cars are on the brink of an ‘electric boom’: Only three percent of Northeasterners are currently driving an electric vehicle, however 52 percent are considering an electric vehicle as their next purchase.
- Availability of charging stations is the number one concern of drivers: 83 percent say there are not currently enough charging locations for electric vehicles but encouragingly, nearly 50 percent have noticed more electric vehicle charging stations in their area over the past year.
- There is a real question mark around electric driving distances: 81 percent of Northeast motorists are concerned about the distance you can drive an electric vehicle before needing to re-charge.
- A cost dilemma faces potential electric car buyers: Despite two in three Northeasterners (64 percent) believing electric vehicles will allow them to save money overall, 85 percent cite the high upfront costs as a barrier.
- The electric car knowledge gap is gender blind: More than half (53 percent) of Northeasterners don’t feel knowledgeable about electric vehicles and this is particularly high among women (64 percent).
- There are positive indicators that electric is here to stay: 60 percent of Northeasterners say their household is more likely to consider an electric vehicle today versus a year ago. 82 percent of Northeasterners want to see more types of electric vehicles available in the marketplace.
- The drive to reduce our environmental footprint: 88 percent of Northeasterners want to reduce their vehicle emissions footprint and three in four acknowledge that gas powered vehicles are becoming antiquated.
- The rise of local charging stations visibility will drive electric consideration greatly: 80 percent of Northeasterners would be more likely to consider EVs if there were more charging stations available in their area.