Americans Aren’t Ready for Electric Cars and Automakers Are Finally Realizing Why

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Electric vehicles (EVs) may be a great idea, but if consumers don’t buy them, they are just an impossible dream. The reality is that while automakers can put all their efforts into producing and providing affordable EVs for Americans, if no one purchases them, there won’t be a positive impact on carbon emissions. We will just have many electric cars rotting in a car lot like China has experienced. 

Toyota executive Toyoda said last week that we need to work to diversify our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, admitting that EVs may not be the answer we seek. 

Frankly, America isn’t ready for EVs yet, and here’s why. 

50% Of U.S. Adults Are Not Interested in EVs

Electric Car
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A new study by Pew Research showed that half of American adults said they are not inclined to consider purchasing an EV. This shows a significant lack of interest in electric cars in America. And if there is no significant interest, then it’s just not time for electric vehicles yet.

The Interest Continues to Decline

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In May 2022, a survey was taken to gain insight into Americans' interest in electric cars. This survey was redone in July 2023, and the percentage of Americans interested in electric cars dropped by 4%. This shows that even though more cars are on the market and EV technology has increased, there is waning interest in electric cars, showing that the world may not yet be ready for the electric vehicle revolution.

Political Divide Over EVs

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26, 2018: President Donald Trump gestures to emphasize an issue at a press conference held at the Lotte Palace Hotel in the Villard Room.
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There is no question that electric vehicles have become a political matter, with a large portion of Republicans (74%) doubting that the necessary infrastructure for EVs will be built. Though the Biden administration has proposed funding for public charging infrastructure, the public doubts that they will see this funding and infrastructure changes come to fruition.

Lack of Confidence in Governmental Promises

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While 74% of Republicans doubt that they will see an improvement in the EV infrastructure, more than half of all Americans (53%) are not confident that the country will build adequately. EV infrastructure. Lack of confidence bleeds into the electric car adoption. If Americans don’t believe that public charging infrastructure will improve, then it makes it more difficult for them to be willing to buy electric cars at all.

Resistance To Phasing Out Gas-Powered Vehicles

Diesel versus electric. Gas or electric station.
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This research showed that Americans are not ready to let go of gas-powered vehicles. Yet, a large majority (59%) of Americans oppose the idea that gas-powered vehicles should be phased out, and this public resistance to the transition directly impacts Americans' willingness to buy into electric vehicles.

The People Want Gas-Powered Options

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Some data shows that more Americans once supported phasing out gas-powered vehicles. In fact, in 2021, there were 7% more people who supported phasing out gas-powered vehicles. This shows that public opinion toward Gaspar vehicles is changing as people begin to see more EVs on the road; this is the opposite direction of what we need to see for mass EV adoption in the US.

Partisan Differences on Gas Options

Biden shutdown
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Americans on opposite sides of the political spectrum can’t agree on electric vehicles. Most Democrats (64%) favor phasing out gas-powered vehicles, but many Republicans (84%) oppose it. While it's normal for these major political parties to disagree, this major partisan difference may indicate that America is not ready to adopt EVs yet.

Emotional Reactions To Phasing Out ICE Cars

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The battle for electric cars has garnered significant emotional reaction on the side of Republicans, with 73% expressing that they would feel upset if gas-powered vehicle production were phased out. This strong emotional opposition is yet another sign that America is not ready.

Lots of Options, but Few Buyers

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While there are plenty of hybrid or electric vehicle options on the market, only 9% of US adults currently own a hybrid or electric vehicle. This either shows that the EV market has not yet penetrated a significant portion of the population or that Americans are simply not interested in buying an electric car yet.

Environmental Concerns Around EVs

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Researchers are beginning to realize that while we may be able to guess the impact that EVs will have on the environment, the reality is that until EV adoption begins to play out, we won’t know for sure until we have hard data. Researchers are most concerned about battery recycling processes. Well, there have been recent breakthroughs by Swedish scientists concerning battery recycling; we will have to see these processes begin to work before more Americans will be willing to invest in electric cars.

Biden's Climate Agenda 

Biden at a campaign event
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Biden has been very vocal about his intentions to improve the agenda. Still, the public's response has been mixed with lots of opposition and doubts regarding the practicality and timeline of electric vehicle adoption and charging infrastructure improvement.

Author: Madison Cates

Title: Managing Editor - Autos

Expertise: cars, electric cars, car maintenance, car repair, best cars

Bio:

Madison is a journalist and editor who finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.