Exclusive Polls Confirm The Biggest Hurdle In Switching To Electric Cars


What would it take to put you in an electric car? We wanted to know, so we asked. It’s been a long road from the Sinclair C5 to the Tesla Model S. While EVs have finally become normal after decades of being too weird to drive, it seems few people want to buy one. Do people miss the roars and vrooms of an engine? Are drivers too traditional-minded for a battery-powered car? Our polls showed that while relatively few people have an ideological opposition to EVs, most people just don’t think EVs are right for them.



In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and the results from the poll conducted on TopSpeed.


Most People Still Want Internal Combustion Engines (For Now)

What Type Of Car Would You Rather Buy In 2024?

Total votes: 536

Pure internal combustion engine is the way to go

55% (293 votes)

Plug-in hybrid for the best of both worlds

25% (133 votes)

Battery electric vehicle for a greener tomorrow

12% (62 votes)

Hydrogen electric to be green and unique

9% (48 votes)

(Poll data collected by TopSpeed)


While pure internal combustion continues to reign supreme, its time may be coming to an end. Just a smidge over half of respondents preferred it. Of course, many people still love the engines that have been in cars all their lives. And of course, enthusiasts love competitively re-tuning their engines in ways that simply aren’t possible with electric motors.

And, of course, pure internal combustion allows for those all-important manual transmissions. It is no secret that many enthusiasts cannot bear the painful thought of driving without their beloved gearsticks. Many people would suffer an identity crisis if they could no longer use those charming gearstick window decals with such well-worn phrases as “manual master race” and “millennial anti-theft device.”


However, those people should be assured that the rise of EVs does not mean the beloved floor-mounted fun-stick will go the way of the manual choke knob. Toyota has developed a prototype manual transmission for EVs that grants the full “one with the machine” experience of jockeying that beloved third pedal and rowing through the gears. Indeed, Toyota’s manual EV transmission even has the option of stalling the car if the driver doesn’t shift properly. If this enters production, the sacred experience of driving with a manual transmission can be preserved long after the engine has gone the way of the oxcart.

BEVs Or Hybrids Are The Choice For Three Out Of Eight People


About one out of eight people wanted purely electric vehicles. The biggest problem most people had with electric vehicles was range. While few people outside of the trucking industry routinely put a hundred miles on their cars every day, apparently we like to keep our options open.

Interestingly, about twice as many people preferred hybrids over purely electric vehicles. Perhaps many respondents would like to know that an engine is there, even if the car rarely uses it. Additionally, hybrids tend to have better range than purely internal combustion or battery-powered vehicles. This matters a lot more to the “I just want to get from A to B” crowd (ie, most people) than it does to purists who don’t care if groceries can fit in the back of their performance coupes. And of course, one must acknowledge that as inflation relentlessly surges, a lot more people are interested in cars that get the most mileage possible out of a gallon of fuel.


The biggest surprise in the poll may be that nine percent of voters wanted a hydrogen car. While that’s a small group, it’s an impressive following for a fuel most people simply cannot get. Unless most of our respondents live in the few cities where hydrogen is available, a fair number of people would like a hydrogen fueling station to appear in their hometowns.

It’s worth pointing out that unlike BEVs, hydrogen cars can still be refueled in power outages. Obviously, hydrogen fueling stations need backup power whenever the local grid goes out. However, it’s easier to supply emergency power for a few public fuel pumps than it is to generate enough electricity to recharge everyone’s cars. This may have given hydrogen a bit of an extra polling advantage in places like Texas, where electricity is not as dependable as perhaps it needs to be.


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Range Is The Biggest Reason People Won’t Buy EVs

2023 Nissan Ariya Platinum+ 4ORCE AWD
Nissan

What Is The Biggest Factor That Would Prevent You From Buying An Electric Car?

Total votes: 575

Usable Range

38% (218 votes)

Price

28% (160 votes)

Charging time

16% (93 votes)

Loss of value/ depreciation

10% (58 votes)

Reliability

8% (46 votes)

(Poll data collected by TopSpeed)


Range topped the list of objections that keep people from “making the switch” to EVs. While long-range EVs are definitely out there, most of them tend to have the range of an ICE car with a scant half-tank of fuel. Even if most people know they never drive two hundred miles per day, apparently few of us want to lose the option. Of course, one never knows when the need will arise to make a long drive on short notice. And of course, while few people embark on road trips, a lot of us like to keep the option open. (Anyone who actually has done a road trip knows that most of the driving time is spent watching out for speed traps instead of having fun.)

Price And Depreciation Keep Almost Two Out Of Five People Away From EVs

Cadillac Celestiq 2024
Cadillac


The second most popular objection to buying an electric car was the price. Right now, the biggest players in the EV market aren’t catering to people on a budget. Companies like Cadillac and Lucid aren’t exactly rushing to get economy EVs into production. Of course, this makes sense from a marketing standpoint. It’s hard to woo reviewers with a plastic-lined car designed to joylessly haul one’s groceries and children. It’s easier to get good reviews when journalists get to test drive something with a leather interior, heated seats, and a price range that almost guarantees that the brochure contains the word “bespoke.”

It’s interesting to note that while a lot of respondents worried about the sale price, relatively few chose depreciation. Indeed, depreciation barely ranked higher than reliability in the poll. Of course, reliability is far less of a concern with electric motors than it is with internal combustion engines. There simply aren’t as many parts to get out of alignment and break. But apparently, few people were concerned about all the delicate electronics that come with modern EVs.


Some People Don’t Want To Wait For The Car To Charge

2023 Lexus RZ 450e Charging
Lexus

Sixteen percent of people said that charging time is the main reason their next car won’t be electric. It’s easy to sanctimoniously point out that people should always plug in the car upon returning home and let it recharge while they sleep. But it’s worth noting that apartment parking lots don’t have EV chargers in every parking spot (yet). Additionally, it’s nice to have room to be a bit careless about keeping a car charged up. If one forgets to refill an internal combustion car, it doesn’t take long to top up the near-empty tank. However, if an EV owner doesn’t diligently plug in the car every night, they may face a wait time of several hours before the car is ready to go.


While it’s always good practice to keep a car fully charged or fully fueled, everyone has those times when they are either too tired, too busy, or too frazzled to follow the best fueling practices. And of course, anyone on a long drive may not want to make multiple long charging stops on a journey that already stretches over multiple days.

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Driving Range Matters More Than Anything Else, And Brand Name Matters Least

2018 Nissan Leaf in maroon out for a drive on a backroad past some woods.
Nissan

If You Were To Buy An Electric Car In 2024, What Would Be The Biggest Deciding Factor In The Model You Choose?

Total votes: 380

All-Electric Range

52% (199 votes)

Charging time

18% (68 votes)

Performance

16% (61 votes)

Luxury

7% 28 votes)

Brand name

6% (24 votes)


(Poll data collected by TopSpeed)

Range topped the priority list for the majority of respondents. It was a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless. After a century of internal-combustion cars, we have all gotten very accustomed to cars that can drive for seven or eight hours on a single tank of fuel. Until the much vaunted solid-state EV batteries finally hit the road, EVs simply cannot offer that. But the problem of short-range may soon go away. Chinese EV manufacturer Nio recently installed a semi-solid state battery into one of its EVs and drove it 648 miles on a single charge.

Charging Time Is People’s Second-Biggest Concern

Allego EV Charging
Allego


Charging time trailed behind driving range as a distant second. It was practically tied with performance. It’s no surprise that performance ranked so low. For most people, any car that can maintain highway speeds is good enough. Even the most joyless of minivans can easily manage a comfortable 90 miles an hour. In other words, the problem of underperforming cars has been solved. While enthusiasts may demand ever more horsepower, they are a small portion of the car-buying public. (After all, if enthusiasts were a dominant force in the auto market, manual transmissions wouldn’t be going extinct.) Most car buyers have only the haziest understanding of what horsepower is, and may not understand “torque” at all.

Not Many People Care About Luxury Or Brand Name

Rivian R2 Family
Rivian


Luxury and brand name ranked at the bottom of the list. Only a small handful of people voted for them. While many of us would enjoy a fancy interior with chilled cupholders (or, for those who are purchasing a vintage Cadillac, magnetic shot glasses that attach themselves to the open glovebox door like the tray table on a Pan Am flight), all the fine trimmings of a car are mere afterthoughts in most people’s decision process. Similarly, few people have the financial means to obsess over a car’s brand (which bottomed out the list). It’s easy enough to come up with the funds to have the logo of one’s choice printed on one’s shirt. However, it’s harder to justify paying a few extra thousand dollars to have the right badge on the prow of a car.


Additionally, brand loyalty isn’t as easy with cars as it is with other things. Sure, every car company has its own devout following. But even those who have a strong preference for a specific car company are often willing to drive something else if the price is right.

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People Would Probably Switch To EVs If EVs Were Ready For Them

Fisker Latigo CS front quarter
Fisker

People essentially give EVs the same considerations that they do any other car. Most car buyers give very little thought to what’s going on under the hood of a car at any given time. Indeed, many people neither know nor care about the difference between a turbocharger and a supercharger. Rather than getting fanatical about what is (or isn’t) under the hood, people want to know if the car will do what they want it to. For most people, the biggest sticking point is “How far can it go?”


The Two Biggest Hurdles Are Driving Range And Price

Price came second to range among the reasons why people won’t make the switch to EVs. With that in mind, one must wonder why there’s such a tightly competitive market for luxury EVs and a paucity of low-cost ones. While electric economy car will never be the most thrilling thing on the car lot, polls suggest that a lot of people would appreciate the option of buying one.

People Aren’t Ideologically Opposed To EVs, But Simply Want Cars That Suit Their Needs

Tesla Cybertruck action shot on a test track
Tesla

It isn’t news that a car is one of the most expensive things anyone will ever buy. Because of this, people seem to be considering EVs the same way they would consider any internal combustion car: with a practical assessment of personal needs and personal budget. The main factors that keep people away from EVs aren’t ideological. Instead, EVs just aren’t ready to serve them yet.




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