Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0529

Inside the Auto Industry: Widespread Skepticism about Electric Vehicles 2020-01-0529

Although Electric Vehicles (EVs) are now a viable option for many automotive consumers, EV consideration and sales continue to lag. We analyzed the data from a survey of 1,095 North American vehicle owners and examined their current knowledge and expectations about EV functionality and operation. Forty-six percent of our sample are EV owners and 54% are owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Thirty-eight percent of our sample are automotive professionals (work in the auto industry in engineering or marketing, etc., at OEMs, suppliers, dealerships, etc.). Our findings indicate that most ICE owners - including our auto industry professionals -- hold a variety of erroneous and exaggerated negative views and expectations about EVs - especially regarding their functionality. These negative expectations and beliefs are refuted by the actual driving and ownership experiences of EV owners. What automotive professionals think about EVs is important because they are a major source of word-of-mouth influence - many people in their families and social networks seek them out for automotive knowledge and advice and guidance in making vehicle purchases. The skepticism about EVs that exists among many auto industry professionals may itself be contributing to the slow adoption of EVs. The Society of Automotive Engineers is in a great position to address current widespread misperceptions about EVs - both within the auto industry itself as well as among the automotive-owning public.


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