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Will EV adoption be stunted by lofty consumer expectations?

(Credit: Tesla China)

Deloitte, a leading professional services network, has published polling and analysis on the hurdles ahead of EV adoption globally.

Deloitte condensed its findings well in one of the first sentences of its analysis, “interest in electric vehicles grows, but worries about price, range, and charging time remain.” This survey is part of a series that Deloitte has conducted annually for over a decade now called the “Global Automotive Consumer Study.” In this year’s publication, the focus was on electric vehicles.

The first surprising piece of data is how much the United States lags in interest in electric vehicles. Deloitte found that only 8% of respondents were confident that EV was their next vehicle. However, this is an outlier compared to other recent surveys conducted in the U.S. Out of the nations polled by Deloitte, China led in interest in EVs, with over a quarter of respondents saying that their next vehicle would be electric.

Less surprising were the reasons respondents were interested in purchasing an EV. Despite the near-constant messaging from governments, media sites, and automakers alike, the cost of ownership was by far the most significant attractor for consumers. Significantly more swaying than concerns about the environment or concerns about personal health.

Shortly thereafter, Deloitte highlighted the top concerns of consumers if they were to buy an electric vehicle, and unsurprisingly, affordability was the number 1 concern across the board. In the U.S., other top concerns included driving range, charging time, public charging availability, and at-home charging availability. Globally, other than concerns regarding the upfront cost of the EV, charging time, driving range, and charging availability were also top concerns.

Only one country had responses that dramatically differed from the norm, China. Chinese respondents not only stated that the superior driving experience was the top attractor to EVs, but their biggest concern was safety regarding battery technology.

For those who live or have purchased an EV in the U.S., these results should be no surprise. The foremost EV seller in America, Tesla, no longer sells a vehicle below $40,000, and the vast majority of Tesla vehicles sell for much more. To make the problem even worse, traditional budget brands have not yet been able to bring down their prices to parity with gas offerings.

Ford’s F150 Lighting sells for thousands more than its gas counterpart. The first-ever Toyota EV offering, the BZ4X, is multiple times the cost of a base RAV4. And while the Chevy Bolt has become popular specifically for its affordability, it remains far more expensive than gas vehicles in its class.

The other area where EVs aren’t meeting customer expectations is in the driving range they are capable of. An astounding 19% of respondents stated that they would want a vehicle with a minimum range of 600 miles, while the plurality of respondents expected more than 300 miles of range. And while many may believe that these expectations are unfairly high compared to gas vehicles, perhaps this is also a messaging problem that automakers must solve in the coming year.

These results do come with the caveat that they varied quite considerably from market to market. Noticeably, Southeast Asian respondents needed the least amount of range, while respondents from Europe and the U.S. stated they needed the most.

On a more positive note, Deloitte was able to find areas where advancement in EV technology has finally been able to meet consumer expectations. The vast majority of respondents stated that they were willing to wait either between 10-20min or 20-40min for a complete charge, and over 40% of respondents stated they would be willing to wait a max of 20min.

While these expectations are high, they are finally within reach of many popular vehicles. Hyundai’s fastest charging vehicles will charge from 10-80% in 18min, while Teslas that plug into the newest generation Supercharger are charging to 80% in a similar timeframe.

For someone who spends their time immersed in the world of electric vehicles, such as myself, it can come across as a culture shock hearing about the concerns and motivators that are affecting the purchasing choices of the people that live around me. Still, perhaps it is an important exercise to step away from the keyboard and see what others really think. And for manufacturers, data like that collected by Deloitte can be a powerful tool showing where consumer attention is and what is affecting how they spend their money.

What do you think of the article? Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Shoot me an email at william@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @WilliamWritin. If you have news tips, email us at tips@teslarati.com!

Will EV adoption be stunted by lofty consumer expectations?
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