New CarGurus survey shows rising consumer interest in EVs

Over the years, we’ve seen many surveys of consumer sentiment about EVs, but this one feels different. E-mobility has been getting a lot of press lately, and consumers, auto dealers and automakers are a lot better informed than they were a year or two ago.

In February 2021, CarGurus surveyed 1,097 automobile owners in the US, as well as an unspecified number in in Canada and the UK. The questions asked are more pertinent than those we’ve typically seen in past surveys, and the answers are more encouraging than ever.

The big question is, of course: How many consumers are thinking about buying an EV? Of CarGurus’ respondents, 30% said they would probably own an EV in the next 5 years, and 52% in the next 10 years. This figure has risen sharply—in 2018, only 15% of respondents said they would probably go electric in the next 5 years.

Some of the findings are what you’d expect: 65% of respondents cited “more charging stations available in my area” as the main factor that would encourage them to buy an EV; current EV owners skew male, young, affluent, urban and tech-savvy; most buyers (67%) want SUVs and crossovers; Tesla is by far the most trusted EV brand (36% said it was the most-trusted company to develop EVs), followed by Toyota (14%).

Other conclusions are more surprising—pleasantly so. Most of CarGurus’ respondents seem to understand that hybrids represent a transitional technology: equal numbers said they were likely to own a hybrid or a pure EV in the next year, but when the timeline is extended to 10 years from now, 52% see themselves in an EV, compared to only 36% in a hybrid. Also, contrary to what many believe, most EVs are not second cars—75% of electric drivers said their EVs were their primary vehicles, even though 48% of them also own a gas or diesel burner.

There’s a lot of interesting info in the report, and it’s worth reading in its entirety, especially for those in charge of marketing for auto manufacturers or retailers. And for policymakers? No surprise here: “Building charging stations is the most effective solution for speeding up EV adoption.”

CarGurus isn’t the only organization to report rapidly rising consumer interest in EVs. Recent surveys from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power found similar trends.

Source: CarGurus