Most U.S. drivers are not considering buying an electric vehicle, citing concerns about replacing expensive batteries and potentially higher car insurance rates, according to the latest research from CarInsurance.com.
In a spring 2023 survey of 2,300 people nationwide, CarInsurance.com asked drivers whether they were seriously considering buying an EV. They were given four choices: “I’ve thought about it, but I’m not sure,” “Yes, in the next five years,” “Yes, eventually” and a flat-out “No.”
The “no” vote was strongest, with 53% of drivers saying they didn’t see it as a viable option.
“I’ve thought about it, but I’m not sure” received the second highest response, with 26% of drivers falling in this category. “Yes, in the next five years” came next with 12% of the vote and “Yes, eventually” was chosen by 9%.
EVs make up less than 1% of the 250 million vehicles sold in the U.S., according to J.D. Power.
But sales are increasing. Kelley Blue Book, in April 2023, estimated that U.S. EV sales in the first quarter of this year increased by 45% year-over-year – which it said was a record quarter – and expected U.S. sales to top 1 million this year.
Still, the majority of drivers CarInsurance.com polled are hesitant.
“EV sales gain more traction each year, but we know that consumers still have a lot of questions about them, such as battery life and ease of charging,” says AAA’s Megan McKernan, manager of the association’s Automotive Research Center.
In the 2023 AAA Car Guide, AAA gave three electric vehicles its top honors. It named the 2022 BMW iX xDrive 50 all-electric vehicle its No. 1 car for the year. Two other EVs, the R1T Adventure pickup truck and the R1S Launch Edition SUV, both made by Rivian, placed in the top 5.
The AAA said 2022 was notable for soaring gas prices, with the national average for a gallon of gas hitting a record $5.01 in June. That led to consumers purchasing more than 760,000 EVs in 2022, a 65% increase from 2021.
- Which states had the most drivers thinking of going electric?
- Where was support for electric vehicles the lowest?
- Why might buyers be considering an EV?
- Maintenance: EVs vs. gas-powered vehicles, which costs most?
- What is holding buyers back from buying an EV?
- Are EVs more expensive to insure?
- How much does it cost to insure an EV?
- Final thoughts: Electric vehicles
- Resources & Methodology
Which states had the most drivers thinking of going electric?
The number of CarInsurance respondents saying they would buy an EV in five years or at some point in the future (21% of respondents) is a bit lower than some other studies have found. The Pew Research Center in July 2023 released a report that said 38% of Americans were very or somewhat likely to consider an electric car as their next vehicle purchase and that 50% said they were not too or not at all likely to buy an EV.
CarInsurance.com found that support for electric vehicles was highest in Hawaii, where 30% of drivers said they could see themselves behind an electric vehicle’s steering wheel within the next five years. Massachusetts came second at 24%, California third at 23%, and Vermont and Minnesota tied for fourth and fifth with 20% each.
Where was support for electric vehicles the lowest?
On the flip side of electric vehicle adoption, support for electric vehicles was lowest in North Dakota, with 80% of drivers saying they didn’t see one in their future. Wyoming followed it with 79% saying “no.”
Given that both states are sparsely populated with miles of country roads between potential charging stations, this response was unsurprising. Wyoming and North Dakota are also big oil- and gas-producing states, which also could play a factor in the court of public opinion.
Why might buyers be considering an EV?
Of those considering an EV, 40% pointed to high gas prices as the primary driver. Secondly was concern over climate change – 27% of drivers said this was their primary reason. About 19% said they were attracted to the potentially lower cost of maintaining an electric vehicle, while 11% said tax incentives were enticing.
Maintenance: EVs vs. gas-powered vehicles, which costs most?
When drivers were asked whether they thought EVs cost more to maintain than traditional gas-powered vehicles, around 44% thought they were more expensive.
Close to the same amount, or 40%, thought that an EV and gas vehicle would be about the same to maintain, while only 16% believed an EV would be cheaper to maintain.
The perception that EVs are more expensive to maintain than gas vehicles doesn’t hold up to reality, the AAA said in a recent study. It found that EVs cost about $949 annually to maintain in accordance with automakers’ recommendations, about $330 less than a gas-powered vehicle.
What is holding buyers back from buying an EV?
When asked why drivers are not considering an EV, most – 44% – pointed to the higher price than a similar gas vehicle.
The next primary concern, at 22%, was the lack of sufficient charging infrastructure, followed by concern over the short range of EVs at 13%. About 9% of drivers were concerned about how frequently electric vehicles needed to be charged.
The results of CarInsurance.com’s survey were similar to a poll conducted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It found that 47% of buyers did not think they would purchase an electric vehicle as their next car.
Only 19% of respondents said it was very likely or extremely likely that an EV would be their next car.
“While there is plenty of interest in purchasing an electric vehicle, the high upfront cost of owning one and concerns about the country’s charging infrastructure are barriers to more people driving them,” Jennifer Benz, deputy director of the AP-NORC Center, said in a statement with the poll’s release.
Kelley Blue Book reports the average price paid for a new EV in April 2023 in the U.S. was $55,089, compared to the average new-car transaction price of $48,275. The difference shrank considerably from a year ago when there was more than a $10,000 difference.
Drivers also expressed uncertainty about the potential cost of repairing an EV, particularly the battery. Here again, the concern is not unwarranted. The cost to replace an EV battery can be anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000, according to market research firm J.D. Power.
Are EVs more expensive to insure?
And then there’s the cost of car insurance. Insuring an electric vehicle will cost more than insuring an equivalent gasoline car.
A variety of factors go into why insurers charge you a higher premium. First, electric vehicles are more expensive, so if your car is in an accident, it will be more costly to repair.
Progressive Insurance says it is true that electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than conventional vehicles, so they do cost less to maintain. However, those electric vehicle parts are more pricey and if the battery pack is damaged, repair shops need to follow certain safety protocols, which increase the repair bill.
In addition, there still aren’t a lot of repair shops with qualified technicians to make the repairs, and those facilities may charge more because of the specialized training.
“All this means potentially higher costs for insurance companies in the event of a claim involving an electric or hybrid vehicle, resulting in higher rates for policyholders.”
Discover the most affordable and priciest EVs and hybrids to insure
How much does it cost to insure an EV?
The average cost to insure an electric vehicle or hybrid can range from about $1,500 per year on the low end, to more than $4,000 for a premium vehicle like an Audi RS E-Tron GT, according to an analysis conducted by CarInsurance.com.
That compares to an overall average cost of car insurance of $1,672 per year for 100/300/100 full-coverage insurance. That is based on drivers with clean driving records and good credit scores.
Final thoughts: Electric vehicles
Drivers are moving toward electric vehicles, but they’re not in a hurry. While high gas prices, tax incentives and climate concerns are among the reasons to purchase an EV, consumers are concerned about the higher upfront costs and range of these vehicles. So, while the future is bright, it isn’t green – yet.
Resources & Methodology
- J. D. Power. “What Percent Of US Car Sales Are Electric.” Accessed June 2023.
- J.D. Power. “How Much Do EV Batteries Cost.” Accessed June 2023.
- J.D. Power. “Which Cars Are Least Likely To Have Catalytic Converters Stolen.” Accessed June 2023.
- Cox Automotive Inc. “Electric Vehicle Sales Report.” Accessed June 2023.
- AAA. “2023 Car Guide.” Accessed June 2023.
- AAA. “True Cost of EVs.” Accessed June 2023.
- Kelley Blue Book. “New-Vehicle Transaction Prices Decline as Automaker Incentives Hit Highest Point in a Year.” Accessed June 2023.
- EPIC. “Nearly half of Americans say it’s unlikely they’ll buy an electric vehicle as their next car.” Accessed June 2023.
- EPIC. “2023 AP-NORC/EPIC Energy Survey.” Accessed June 2023.
CarInsurance.com commissioned survey company Slice to survey 2,300 people from all 50 states on various driving-related topics, including whether they were considering buying an electric vehicle in the near future. Drivers were aged 18 and older.