For two years, Plug In America has been surveying electric vehicle (EV) consumers—both drivers and those considering an electric vehicle. We are proud to present the results of the second annual survey of more than 8,000 consumers, which offer a fascinating insight into the opinions and habits of the growing number of EV consumers.
Survey Report Webinar
Executive Director Joel Levin presented a webinar on the survey results on March 18, 2022. View a recording of the webinar below and download the slides from the presentation.
Among the findings in the 2022 survey report:
- EV drivers are very satisfied with their vehicles, with 90% reporting that they are likely or very likely to purchase an EV as their next vehicle.
- The primary motivation for both owners and intenders to purchase an EV was the environment and air quality, but intenders are more likely to cite cost savings as a motivating factor.
- The primary economic factor for switching to an EV was access to inexpensive home charging, indicating a need to increase access to charging for residents of apartment and condo buildings.
- A majority of respondents (59%) considered it vital or very important that EVs charge with renewable energy.
- Over 80% of owners indicate satisfaction with finding the information they needed to buy or lease an EV; the most common detail lacking was cold-weather performance.
- EV drivers indicated room for improvement with the shopping experience, with only 15% rating the knowledge of the salesperson about EVs as “very high.”
- EV owners continue to voice frustration with public charging infrastructure, with the most common issues being broken or nonfunctional chargers or too few charging locations. However, the Tesla Supercharger network scored significantly better than its competitors on every metric.
2022 Executive Summary
Plug In America is the voice of the electric vehicle (EV) consumer; while several groups perform surveys of EV drivers, Plug In America’s membership includes EV drivers with years or even decades of experience with the vehicles. In September–December 2021, Plug In America surveyed over 5,500 EV owners and more than 1,400 individuals interested in purchasing an EV. This survey follows our prior survey and will be an annual series. Similar to last year, the intent of this survey is to understand the current state of EV driving and consideration in the United States, in particular:
- What are the primary motivations for drivers and those considering EVs?
- What are the most valuable sources of information available to EV customers?
- What is the quality of the current EV buying experience for customers?
- Are EV owners content? Why and why not?
- What are the most significant concerns with existing fast-charging networks?
- Where do prospective EV owners converge and diverge from existing owners?
The year 2021 was extraordinary for electric vehicles, with the market nearly doubling year-over-year. Electric vehicles made up approximately 4% of new vehicle sales in 2021, compared to about 2% in 2020. Future growth should be strong as new models become available, especially in the popular light truck segment. It will be essential to ensure that the buying, driving, and charging experiences continue to improve.
EV owners are generally satisfied with their purchases; 90% say that it is “likely” or “very likely” that their next vehicle purchase will be an EV. The primary motivation for EV owners to purchase the vehicle was the environment and air quality, with approximately 50% indicating this was their most important consideration, nearly three times the rate of the consideration next most frequently listed as the most important (cost savings, at 18%). A majority of respondents (59%) considered it “vital” or “very important” that EVs charge with renewable energy, which increases the environmental benefits even further.
The most important economic factor respondents cited was access to inexpensive home charging, even higher than the federal EV tax credit. Currently, most EV drivers live in single-family homes. As we work to get EV charging in more apartment and condo buildings, we will likely see an increase in apartment residents buying or leasing EVs. Consistent with that, we see that 92% of EV drivers prefer to charge at home, with a quarter of them using level-one charging, indicating that charging speed is not the primary factor for many drivers.
Over 80% of owners indicate satisfaction with finding the information they needed to buy or lease an EV; the most common detail lacking was cold-weather performance. EV-specific websites such as PlugStar.com were rated as the most valuable EV information source by EV owners and those considering buying an EV. However, owners were left wanting with the experience they received at dealerships, with only 15% considering the salesperson “very high” in knowledge. While EV owners intend to continue EV ownership, they voice frustration with public charging infrastructure, with the most common issues being “broken or nonfunctional chargers” or “too few charging locations.” On both topics, 34% of respondents noted this as at least a “moderate concern.” However, there was significant variation by charging network, with the Tesla Supercharger network scoring significantly better than its competitors on every metric. Public fast charging has room for improvement.
- 90% of EV owners are “likely” or “very likely” to purchase an EV as their next vehicle.
- 83% of owners and prospective owners were satisfied with finding the information they needed to buy/lease an EV
- Only 15% of EV owners rated dealership salesperson knowledge as “very high.” Only 35% rated as “high” or better.
- 34% of those who used DC fast charging noted that broken chargers were at least a “moderate concern;” the same percentage ranked “charging locations are too far apart” similarly.
Those who do not currently own an EV but are considering purchasing one within the next 12 months share some similarities with current owners, but there are some differences. Like current EV owners, these “intenders” are primarily motivated by environmental and clean air impacts to purchase the vehicle. Still, they are significantly more likely to name cost savings as their most crucial motivating factor (25% do so, versus 18% of EV drivers). They also find EV-specific websites the most valuable source of information on EVs but find less value in EV information resources overall, possibly because they have not yet completed their research. These intenders tended to be older and less likely to earn over $75,000 per year. Considerers were equally likely as owners to live in a single-family home, with about 85% of respondents falling into this category.
The following report explores these findings in more detail and provides insight into what can be done to encourage further growth in EV adoption.
As a significant motivating factor in EV adoption is air quality and environmental protection, we recommend that this benefit be kept in mind when developing state incentives. Incentives for EVs support a public good (cleaner air and a more liveable climate) and do not merely benefit the drivers or owners.
Improving the dealership experience is a key area of Plug In America’s expertise, which the report shows is vital to continue expanding our work. We encourage regions and states to implement dealership engagement programs such as PlugStar, which supports, trains, and certifies dealers to sell EVs. This program has proven results in improving customer satisfaction and dealer success in regions where it is implemented.
The most significant problems noted for fast charging networks were broken or nonfunctional chargers (a “major difficulty” or “deal-breaker” for 14% of respondents) and too sparse charging locations (a “major difficulty” or “deal-breaker” for 11% of respondents). These concerns were far less severe among users of the Tesla Supercharger network. Only 3% of Tesla users found broken chargers to be in the two most serious classifications of problems, and only 2% found insufficient charging locations to be of such severity. Publicly-funded charging networks must strive to attain a similar level of driver satisfaction, especially with considerable additional funding for public EV charging in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Overall, the picture is encouraging, with EV drivers very satisfied with their vehicles. While some issues need attention, such as dealership knowledge and public charging reliability, policymakers and industry stakeholders have developed promising solutions to these concerns.