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Electric vehicle prices and range, not cost of gas, top concerns for prospective buyers

·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
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As gas prices top $5.00 a gallon nationwide and economists ponder when demand destruction will really kick in, many wonder whether the electric vehicle (EV) industry is benefitting.

Data shows that new EV purchases jumped in Q1, and many industry watchers speculate high gas prices are driving this behavior. But a new study from Autolist — an online car shopping platform— shows gas prices actually are not driving more EV consumer sentiment.

“This was a little bit of a surprise for us,” says David Undercoffler, Editor-in-Chief of Autolist in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “We asked people. ‘What dollar per gallon would the price of gas need to hit in order for you then to consider an EV for your next vehicle?’ And the most common answer was actually it's not about the price of gas.”

Autolist survey on effect of gas prices on EV buying sentiment
Autolist survey on effect of gas prices on EV buying sentiment

Viewing the data, a whopping 21% of respondents said it wasn’t about the price of gas and “wouldn’t buy an EV for other reasons.” Fifteen percent said they were unsure, and only 6% said it would take $5 gasoline for them to seriously consider an EV as their next vehicle.

It turns out the respondents in Autolist’s 1,300 person survey wouldn't choose an EV for other reasons, and those go back to high prices for EVs (47%), range or lack thereof (44%), and no charging infrastructure (36%).

“Price is the number one reason they're not buying an EV, range is the second reason, and then charging infrastructure, anxiety over where they're going to charge the vehicle is always number three,” Undercoffler says.

Autolist survey on biggest reasons why people aren't buying EVS
Autolist survey on biggest reasons why people aren't buying EVS

Given those concerns, it is no surprise respondents did not want to pay a premium for an EV versus an equivalent gas powered vehicle. Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents said they would pay no premium at all, 22% were unsure, and 9% said they would pay $500 - $1,000 more for an equivalent EV.

There is good news in the survey for boosting EV buying sentiment.

Respondents were very favorable of federal, state and local incentives being offered for EV purchases, with 66% in support of government financial encouragement. Another big factor is offering EVs in body styles that Americans want - namely crossovers, and the always popular pickup truck.

“Whether it's internal combustion or EVs, we like crossovers in America - we also like trucks,” Undercoffler says. “We've seen a lot of big automakers, Ford (F) has the Lightning you're showing right there, that's going to be a really interesting inflection point because I think that's going to show a lot of people who maybe haven't previously considered an EV that, look, this is offering many of the daily use case benefits of my current truck but now it's only electric.”

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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