In spite of low gas prices, electric vehicles are selling much better this year than they did over a similar period in 2015. According to Greentech Media, January to September sales are up 34%. An important part of this uptick is the second generation Chevrolet Volt, which went on sale last October. Consumers seem to have held out for the updated model, which improves on its predecessor in many ways. This points to an interesting trend: consumer interest in EV market may be defined less by outside factors like federal tax credits and gas prices than it is by the desirability of the cars themselves. Cool, practical cars are going to sell well, and this needs to be on manufacturer’s minds as well as issues like charging infrastructure and range anxiety.
The second annual survey on electric vehicles from the Consumer Federation of America contextualizes this theory and gives us some data to work with. According to the study, 50% of adults aged 18-34 are interested in purchasing an EV, which means that many people’s first new car may be electric. While only 22% of people who know nothing about EVs are interested in purchasing one, 55% of people who describe themselves as very knowledgeable are interested in a EV purchase. In an interesting, and timely, part of the survey, CFA asked respondents a question regarding interest in a specific type of EV. As reported by CFA:
The survey also asked consumers, “The next time you buy or lease a car, would you consider an electric vehicle if it costs the same as a gas-powered car, has lower operating and maintenance costs, has a 200 mile range between charges, and can recharge in less than an hour?” In response to this question, 57 percent said they would be interested in purchasing this EV. For those who say they know a lot about EVs, the figure was 62 percent. And for young adults, the figure was 70 percent.
Good news: The Chevrolet Bolt is right around the corner, and it meets these specs. Hopefully, that means over half of consumers will be considering buying Bolts the moment they arrive on dealers’ lots.