Most American buyers don't even know their EVs exist!
As a motoring journalist or gearhead, it's easy to live inside our bubble and take for granted the general public's perception of new cars. What may be blindingly obvious to us simply isn't for everyone else. The 2021 Cox Automotive Path to EV Adoption Study revealed some fascinating findings regarding the barriers to EV ownership. We all know about the obvious ones like range anxiety and cost, but it runs much deeper than that. Many consumers simply aren't aware that the biggest brands in the United States sell EVs at all. That includes Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan. The one automaker that doesn't have a great issue with awareness is Tesla.
According to the study, just 44 percent of people considering an EV were aware of the Ford Mustang Mach-E. That's a low number for a vehicle carrying the Mustang name and which is a reasonably priced crossover. Of all the survey respondents, a mere 37% were aware of the Nissan Leaf's existence, an EV that's been around for over a decade. One would think that the Chevy Bolt's recent recall issues would've raised awareness - even negatively so - about this hatchback, yet 69% of EV shoppers were unsure if Chevy made an EV at all. By comparison, 83% of EV considerers were aware that Tesla sells EVs.
Even if automakers are lucky enough to get an informed shopper into the showroom, dealerships and sales staff are proving to be another barrier. In this study, 71% of dealers said they're either "only somewhat" or "not at all" equipped to sell more EVs moving forward. This is an issue recently identified by BMW when assessing the skills of its sales staff to sell EVs.
The Cox Automotive survey was conducted in June and July this year and involved close to 5,000 people who "owned, considered or rejected a pure battery-electric vehicle" over this period. While things are improving and traditional barriers like range anxiety and charging availability are less worrisome than before, there's clearly still work to be done.