There is some good short-term news for electric vehicle manufacturers. Most carmakers have a waiting list of buyers for their electric vehicles (EVs). Ford has 200,000 buyers waiting for its F-150 EV truck, and Honda just started taking reservations for its MDX crossover, according to the Wall Street Journal. That means despite the ongoing shortage of semiconductors, automakers have some guaranteed customers for their vehicles.
The recent high gas prices have also led to many drivers researching an EV purchase, according to Edmunds Data. “The major surge in interest of late is certainly more of a reaction to record gas prices sparked by the war in Ukraine," said Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds.
“Consumers are actually educating themselves on electrified vehicles and the choices that will be available when they’re ready to make their next purchase,” Caldwell continued. The irony, she added, “is that although market forces are driving up a consumer appetite for these vehicles, it’s coming at a time where few are actually available to purchase.”
HYBRID VS. FULL ELECTRIC
Edmunds’ new poll also found some concerning news that is similar to what I have heard from some readers of Full Throttle. Many potential buyers are afraid to go all the way to a fully electrified vehicle. This is a worrisome long-term issue for the industry.
The number one reason, nearly two thirds (62%) of buyers say they would avoid an EV because there are “not enough charging stations.” Range anxiety was a worry of 53%, and the high cost of an EV was mentioned by half of poll respondents.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE GAP
These results point out the gap that exists between EV infrastructure, vehicle affordability, and the adoption of a fully electric car. Sure, the government is spending billions of dollars to build charging stations (probably in the range of 100,000 stations for $5 billion). No dollars have yet been released and it will be several years before the charging infrastructure is closer to being completed.
This is why so many Americans are buying or considering hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The battery pack along with an internal combustion engine is appealing for those who don’t trust the state of the EV industry. I’ve heard from readers in rural areas who think they could get stranded in a fully electric vehicle.
These hybrid vehicles are expected to be the bridge of this infrastructure-adoption gap. When Edmunds asked consumers if they would consider an EV, 28% said yes while 34% said no. But, 38% of respondents said while they might not go full electric, they would indeed consider a hybrid.
This is what Toyota says it has found when surveying its global consumer base. The Japanese manufacturer plans more hybrid vehicles than its competitors (Toyota did announce moving more quickly to fully electric vehicles, but still is hybrid heavy). Last year, according to the automakers association, there were 43 hybrid models on the market. That’s a third more than the battery electric vehicles offered.
When will this gap be bridged and adoption of fully electric vehicles become more robust? Edmunds’ Caldwell thinks the industry is attacking the barriers to entry (cost, range, and charging stations), “which will make the eventual switch to an EV more palatable for many consumers.”
“Eventual switch,” she said. That may explain another number from the automakers association. In 2021, sales of EV vehicles were just 4.4% of the total US market. But that is nearly double the 2020 numbers. Telling as well is that sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles were down nearly 5%.
We are moving toward more EVs in the US. Many Americans just aren’t ready to go all the way.
(Cover image credit: Getty Images)