Interest in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Shows Little Change Since 2013

Men are more interested than women in both electrics and diesels

08:00 AM EDT Aug 19, 2015 Rating
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Interest in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Shows Little Change Since 2013

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Electric cars – encompassing the full battery of products ranging from traditional hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles – have seen some impressive benchmarks come and go in recent years. 2013 and 2014 each saw sales for this segment exceeding the half-million mark, and 2015 is on track for a repeat. As of the end of July, nearly 290,000 vehicles with a battery generating at least some of their momentum have been sold in the U.S., including nearly 120,000 plug-in models (whether pure electrics or plug-in hybrids).

But while that is indisputably a lot of vehicles, 2015 sales numbers to date still represent the same 3% of total U.S. vehicle sales seen in 2012, before some major players joined the charge. But what might lie ahead for the segment?

Just under half of American car owners (or anticipated owners) say they’d consider a traditional hybrid the next time they’re in the market for a new vehicle (48%, identical to 2013 findings); lower consideration levels were recorded for plug-in vehicles, whether they be hybrids (29%, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21%, also up 2 points). An additional two in ten would consider a diesel (19%, up 3 points), while 35% would consider a smaller or gas powered vehicle to save on operating costs (down 3 points).

These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,225 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from May 20-26, 2015.

Most of these vehicles appeal more to some groups than to others:

Barriers for electric vehicle consideration

When asked to select their top concerns related to pure electric vehicles, price (67%) and range (64%) rise to the top, followed by repair/maintenance costs (58%), reliability (53%), performance/power (50%) and the fact that it’s still new technology (42%).

What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means that American drivers’ top concern when considering a new vehicle – reliability, which 93% rate “very important” – is not among the top barriers standing in the way of electric car adoption.

But money talks: in addition to being the top barrier to electric car adoption, purchase cost is the second most important consideration when looking at a new vehicle (with 81% considering it very important). Right now hybrids and electrics still come at a premium when shopped against otherwise comparable vehicles, but those comparative costs are slowly going down. Time will tell whether this might lead to stronger sales.

 

TABLE 1a

LOWER OPERATING COST VEHICLE TYPES YOU WOULD CONSIDER FOR NEXT LEASE/PURCHASE

by Generation, Gender & Political Party

“Today, many vehicles offer several ways of spending less on operating your vehicle, from more efficient engines to electric powertrains.  Which of the following types of vehicles would you consider the next time you are in the market for a new vehicle?  Please choose any that you would consider.”

Base: Own, lease, regularly use or anticipate buying or leasing a vehicle

 

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Political Party

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Male

Female

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Traditional hybrid (i.e. runs on a combination of gas and electricity; never plugged in)

48

48

57

49

43

38

48

49

42

53

52

Smaller and/or less powerful gas-powered vehicle

38

35

40

34

32

30

35

35

31

36

38

Plug-in hybrid (i.e. runs on a combination of gas and electricity; can be plugged in to extend electric range)

27

29

39

28

22

23

31

28

20

34

32

Electric (i.e. runs only on electricity; needs to be plugged in)

19

21

34

17

14

11

25

17

10

25

26

Diesel

16

19

27

16

17

9

28

11

22

13

25

Would only get a vehicle with lower operating costs if I could do so without changing my driving habits/expectations

41

41

35

40

45

47

38

44

46

37

42

Other

8

8

6

10

8

10

9

7

12

4

7

Note: Multiple responses allowed.


TABLE 1b

LOWER OPERATING COST VEHICLE TYPES YOU WOULD CONSIDER

by Region, # Cars in Household & Miles Travel Per Day

“Today, many vehicles offer several ways of spending less on operating your vehicle, from more efficient engines to electric powertrains.  Which of the following types of vehicles would you consider the next time you are in the market for a new vehicle?  Please choose any that you would consider.”

Base: Own, lease, regularly use or anticipate buying or leasing a vehicle

 

2013 Total

2015 Total

Region

# Vehicles in HH

# Miles Travel in Avg. Day

East

Midwest

South

West

1

2

3+

0-30 miles

31-50 miles

Over 50 miles

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Traditional hybrid (i.e. runs on a combination of gas and electricity; never plugged in)

48

48

47

50

44

54

44

52

51

48

52

50

Smaller and/or less powerful gas-powered vehicle

38

35

37

35

32

36

33

37

34

35

33

32

Plug-in hybrid (i.e. runs on a combination of gas and electricity; can be plugged in to extend electric range)

27

29

29

26

27

35

25

30

34

28

28

38

Electric (i.e. runs only on electricity; needs to be plugged in)

19

21

22

20

22

20

20

21

22

18

23

32

Diesel

16

19

18

17

19

21

16

21

21

17

23

28

Would only get a vehicle with lower operating costs if I could do so without changing my driving habits/expectations

41

41

38

43

45

36

42

37

49

41

38

45

Other

8

8

11

7

8

7

9

8

8

8

11

6

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

TABLE 2a

TOP CONCERNS RELATED TO PURE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

By Generation & Gender

 “In your mind, what are the top concerns related to pure electric vehicles, that is vehicles which run only on electricity and which need to be plugged in?”

Base: U.S. adults

 

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Price

65

67

63

63

71

73

68

65

Range

63

64

52

58

75

75

71

56

Repair/Maintenance costs

55

58

57

59

59

59

57

60

Reliability

53

53

54

52

52

60

51

56

Performance/Power

48

50

50

49

47

56

47

52

Still new technology

44

42

39

42

44

49

42

43

No manual transmission option

10

11

14

11

10

8

9

14

Other

9

8

5

7

11

7

8

8

No concerns

7

6

6

7

5

5

4

7

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 TABLE 2b

TOP CONCERNS RELATED TO PURE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

By Region & Political Party

 “In your mind, what are the top concerns related to pure electric vehicles, that is vehicles which run only on electricity and which need to be plugged in?”

Base: U.S. adults

 

2013 Total

2015 Total

Region

Political Party

East

Midwest

South

West

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Price

65

67

65

69

66

66

63

68

71

Range

63

64

63

67

61

66

69

59

70

Repair/Maintenance costs

55

58

55

58

61

57

58

57

61

Reliability

53

53

56

50

56

51

57

50

55

Performance/Power

48

50

45

49

55

46

54

47

50

Still new technology

44

42

45

42

45

37

45

41

43

No manual transmission option

10

11

9

15

12

9

10

12

12

Other

9

8

10

7

7

8

7

8

8

No concerns

7

6

9

6

6

4

3

8

3

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 TABLE 3a

IMPORTANCE OF VEHICLE ATTRIBUTES FOR CONSIDERATION - Summary Table

“How important are each of the following to you when considering a vehicle?”

Base: Own, lease, regularly use or anticipate buying or leasing a vehicle

 

 

Very/ Somewhat important

Very important

Somewhat important

Not that/ Not at all important

Not that important

Not at all important

Not at all sure

Reliability

%

98

93

4

1

*

*

1

Safety features

%

96

75

22

3

2

1

1

Purchase cost

%

96

81

15

2

2

1

1

Fuel economy

%

95

71

25

4

3

1

1

Operating cost

%

95

68

27

4

3

1

2

Performance

%

93

70

22

6

6

1

1

Cargo volume

%

76

28

48

23

18

5

1

Passenger volume

%

74

31

42

25

20

5

1

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; * indicates fewer than 0.5% selected.

 

TABLE 3b

IMPORTANCE OF VEHICLE ATTRIBUTES FOR CONSIDERATION

“Very Important” Summary – by Generation, Gender & Political Party

“How important are each of the following to you when considering a vehicle?”

Base: Own, lease, regularly use or anticipate buying or leasing a vehicle

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Political Party

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Male

Female

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Reliability

93

88

93

96

99

92

95

93

93

94

Purchase cost

81

81

83

83

74

77

86

81

83

78

Safety features

75

72

68

77

87

66

83

71

80

72

Fuel economy

71

72

69

69

74

66

74

63

79

67

Performance

70

71

64

71

79

65

76

69

72

69

Operating cost

68

66

65

71

66

65

70

64

72

65

Passenger volume

31

36

37

27

21

30

33

31

31

30

Cargo volume

28

27

28

32

22

27

29

32

28

25

 

TABLE 4

CURRENTLY OWN, LEASE OR USE A MOTOR VEHICLE

 “Do you currently own, lease, or regularly use a vehicle such as a car, truck, minivan or SUV?”

Base: U.S. adults

 

Total

%

Yes

88

 

No

12

 

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

TABLE 5

ANTICIPATE BUYING OR LEASING A MOTOR VEHICLE WITHIN NEXT YEAR

 “Do you anticipate buying or leasing a new vehicle within the next year?”

Base: Don’t currently own, lease or regularly use a vehicle

 

Total

%

Yes

21

 

No

79

 

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

TABLE 6

NUMBER OF VEHICLES OWNED, LEASED OR USED IN HOUSEHOLD

 “How many vehicles, in total, such as cars, trucks, minivans or SUV’s, are owned, leased or regularly used within your household?”

Base: Own, lease or regularly use at least one vehicle

 

Total

%

1 vehicle

38

 

2 vehicles

42

 

3 vehicles

14

 

4 vehicles

4

 

5 or more vehicles

2

 

MEAN # OF VEHICLES

1.9

 

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

TABLE 7

MILES TRAVEL IN AN AVERAGE DAY

 “Do you currently own, lease, or regularly use a vehicle such as a car, truck, minivan or SUV?”

Base: Own, lease or regularly use at least one vehicle

 

Total

%

0-25 miles

66

 

26-50 miles

22

 

51-75 miles

5

 

76-100 miles

3

 

101+ miles

3

 

MEAN # OF MILES

29.6

 

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 


 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #50, August 19, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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