But there are still a few barriers to EV ownership.
The automotive industry is going through a big change. While many Americans are against EV ownership, there's no denying that the battery-powered alternatives are gaining in popularity. A new study seems to agree; Mini USA has conducted a consumer survey which has revealed that more Americans - especially younger and female customers - view EVs as a primary car in the household.
This shift to primary cars is a big change; the initial 2019 survey found many people viewed EVs as commuter cars or city-bound cars. It's worth noting that some things have remained consistent from the previous study. 76% of respondents said 75 miles of driving range is perfectly suitable for daily driving - this is far below the range of EVs on sale today. The Mini Cooper Electric Hardtop, for example, can travel up to 114 miles between charges, and that's still far below most other EVs.
In the USA, the average daily commute is around 41 miles which means, theoretically, the majority of road users would be able to run an electric vehicle as an everyday driver. As battery-powered cars have become more popular, consumer expectations have changed as well. Three years ago, just 59% of respondents believed charging should take no more than an hour. That number has since increased to 67%.
This remains one of the biggest drawbacks to EV ownership, with would-be owners reluctant to make the switch due to long charging times. This is slowly beginning to improve, though. The new Kia Niro EV, for example, can replenish its battery from 10% to 80% in less than 45 minutes when plugged into a Level 3 fast charger. The study does concede that greater visibility for charging stations is required - just 35% of consumers know where their closest EV charging port is.
Interestingly, the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit remains a largely unknown incentive. Among college graduates, especially in higher-income households, the credit remains a hugely important part of the purchasing factor. When it comes to consumers with no college education or those in lower-income households, this isn't necessarily a big part of purchasing a newer car.
While the study notes that stronger campaigning will raise awareness, there are other issues surrounding this topic. Even a cheaper EV such as the Nissan Leaf is still too expensive for many at $27,400. The incentive may reduce the MSRP considerably, but it's still not within the financial reach of many hard-working Americans. Now more than ever, the marketplace requires affordable EVs.
"As Mini is moving to become fully electric by 2030, it is important that we and other EV brands with skin in the game continue to demonstrate that EVs are more accessible and satisfying to drive for everyone," said Andrew Cutler, Head of Communications for Mini USA.