EV Buy-In Resistance is Deepening, J.D. Power Report says

May 1, 2023
EV sales are on a long-term upward trend, but beneath those headline numbers we are starting to see some consumer behaviors that suggest a possible bifurcation of the automotive marketplace, J.D. Power says

Even as commercial fleets and mass transit systems are taking baby steps toward electrification, the intensity of individual buyer resistance to electric vehicles is strengthening amidst concerns about cost, range and charging convenience, according to a new report by J.D. Power.

No doubt, though: EV sales are growing as a percentage of the U.S. market. Yet, the customer experience survey giant’s latest E-Vision Intelligence Report shows that 21 percent of respondents replied in March that they are “highly unlikely” to buy an electric vehicle—growing from about 18 percent only two months earlier.

“Top-line metrics on overall EV market share, availability and affordability have been on a long-term upward trend, but beneath those headline numbers we are starting to see some consumer behaviors that suggest a possible bifurcation of the automotive marketplace,” reads the executive summary of J.D. Power’s EV buyers report.

Automakers around the world are banking on a high-moving trend toward EVs and transportation electrification. All of the primary manufacturers such as GM, Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota are rolling out new EV lines, while startups such as Rivian and others are building toward a future expansion of sales.

February figures indicate that EVs accounted for more than 8 percent of U.S. new-vehicle auto sales, up from less than 3 percent in 2020, according to JD Power. At the same time, those who are reticent about the viability of electrification are perhaps digging in a little deeper.

Electric vehicles, on average, are more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts, with many costing more than $50,000 per auto. The perceived lack of charging infrastructure, and the lengthy time of charging required, also are impediments.

See our full coverage of E-Mobility in the C&I Energy Transition

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Government incentives on EVs were traditionally seen as benefiting the market, but a lack of clarity and limitations on those credits available through recent federal funding legislation have negatively impacted the sales pipeline, J.D. Power says.

“New criteria introduced by the Internal Revenue Service, which limit tax credits on the sale of new EVs based on details of the chemical composition of their batteries, will reduce the affordability of EVs, potentially limiting future sales,” the E-Vision Intelligence report reads.

In other words, some EV models qualify for tax credits while others don’t, and the understanding on those winners and losers is murky among customers.

It’s not all traffic jam and no freeway for the EV future. The JD Power results indicate that more respondents—close to 27 percent—are “highly likely” to buy one in the future.

The gulf is just among those on the fence—and that gap is growing.

“Digging deeper into the primary barriers to EV purchase consideration, we find remarkable stability in the top reasons consumers provide for sticking with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles,” reads the J.D. Power summary. “Lack of public charging infrastructure and price have been the top two concerns for the past 10 months, along with related issues involving range anxiety, time required to charge and power outage and grid concerns.”

Among the top reasons given by J.D. Power respondents on why they would not buy an EV, lack of charging station availability and purchase price led at 49 percent each. Limited driving distance per charge and time to recharge followed closely, according to the survey.

In the U.S., the transportation sector accounts for about 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The commercial fleet sector has even greater concerns about electrification but is slowly working toward a greater understanding on the means to decarbonize their routes. A North American Council on Freight Efficiency study of commercial trucking fleet electrification will be part of the content sessions offered at T&D World Live this Sept. 12-14 in Sacramento.

NACFE and some of its partners will detail their “Run on Less” study of commercial depot scale-ups of electric trucks. Among the participants in that study include fleets from Frito-Lay, UPS and others.