ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 9 in 10 electric-vehicle (EV) owners admit to having had reservations about buying an EV before making the purchase, according to a recent survey by AAA. Most of these reservations surround range anxiety—the fear of running out of battery power with nowhere to charge. It’s an attitude that has tamped down demand for EVs in the United States.
“Although 40 million Americans have shown interest in buying electric for their next car, actual adoption is happening at a much slower rate,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations for AAA, Orlando, Fla. “AAA wanted to understand what kind of impact the experience of owning an electric vehicle has on perception of these cars and maybe more importantly, if given the chance, would consumers choose to go green again.”
The answer: Ownership has a big impact. In October 2019, AAA conducted a survey of 1,090 plug-in EV owners—71% who had not previously owned an EV—and uncovered a few interesting attitudes and experiences that suggest familiarity with the alternative fuel vehicles breeds contentedness. They include …
EV ownership eases range anxiety
An earlier AAA survey from May 2019 found the top two reasons why U.S. consumers do not consider purchasing an EV is the lack of places to charge (58%) and the fear of running out of a charge while driving (57%).
However, in the October 2019 AAA survey, the vast majority of EV owners (95%) said they have never run out of a charge while driving. And 77% who said they had been concerned about insufficient charging prior to their EV purchase became less or no longer concerned afterward. EV owners do 75% of charging at home, per the survey.
“Range anxiety has been synonymous with electric vehicles from the beginning,” said Brannon. “Hearing firsthand from owners that this is no longer a worry may change the mind of those who have otherwise been skeptical to the idea of owning an electric vehicle.”
EVs are getting more mileage
More than three-quarters (78%) of new EV owners in the AAA survey also have at least one gasoline-powered vehicle; however, 87% say they do most driving with the EV.
Interestingly, 43% of owners said they were driving more overall with an EV—for an average of 39 miles per day—than when they owned a gasoline-powered vehicle.
In the survey, 96% of current EV owners said they would buy or lease another EV when ready to get their next new car.
EV ownership costs slightly higher, fuel costs much lower
The EV owner survey coincides with the release of AAA’s latest Your Driving Costs (YDC) project, which breaks down ownership costs for different types of vehicles. AAA determined that over a five-year span and 75,000 miles of driving, the overall cost of owning a new 2019 model-year compact EV is 8% more per year than a comparable compact gasoline-powered vehicle. Ownership costs include full-coverage insurance; license, registration and taxes; and depreciation.
For the purposes of the YDC project, AAA compared EVs, including the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt LT, Hyundai Ionic Electric, Kia Soul EV Plus, Nissan Leaf SV and Volkswagen eGolf SE, to the following internal-combustion engine vehicles: 2019 Chevrolet Cruze LS, Honda Civic LX, Hyundai Elantra SE, Nissan Sentra SV and Toyota Corolla SE.
Individual costs such as fuel and maintenance and repair were lower for the EVs. The electricity costs to drive a compact EV 15,000 miles per year averaged $546, compared to $1,255 for the compact gas-powered vehicle. Maintenance costs were $330 less for EVs, which don’t need oil or air-filter changes.