When Will the Average American Buy their First Electric Car?

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As advances in technology come forward, old tech is left behind or rendered obsolete. We are on the verge of another leap in terms of transportation technology and that is the widespread use of electric vehicles instead of standard gas powered vehicles. While not relatively new, electric vehicles have become more and more prevalent in society as the need to transition to a fuel efficient economy becomes ever more important in the United States and abroad. The question that still lingers though is when will the average person buy an electric vehicle; or will they?

There are many questions surrounding the practicality and reliability of electric vehicles, and what people expect when buying one. According to a study done by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEV) done in October 2011 in association with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “”found that in 1000 surveyed individuals that 75% knew of the variety of electric powered vehicles, those being battery electric vehicles and plug in hybrid electric vehicles, also while a majority voiced concerns that PEV’s cost more than conventional gas powered vehicles, and a small portion of those surveyed had concerns about safety and reliability along with range and maintenance costs PEV’s “”(TVA Electric Vehicle Survey. p 3. 2011). People are aware of electric vehicles and what types are available but are also rightfully cautious about range and safety.

The EPRI in the same study covers charging preferences among those surveyed and found that “”fast charging is a major factor in whether individuals decide to purchase an electric vehicle and that a majority preferred a fixed charging rate as opposed to discount rates for elective or night-time charging, and that their electric utility plays an important role in PEV purchases and operation decisions”” (TVA EVS. p 3.). Those according to the survey who are also likely to buy a PEV are also “”knowledgeable about PEV’s through personal research, as well as being influenced by the survey and have a means of charging via an outlet within 25 feet of their driveway”” (TVA EVS. p 4.).

The EPRIs research also includes a standard commercial level charging chart for the two types of electric vehicles, the Plug-in electric hybrids and battery electric vehicles; the difference in charge time is staggering for standard outlets and commercial charging stations. “”Charge time for a standard 110 volt outlet for a PEV is 8 hours but has a limit of 20-40 miles while a full charge for a BEV takes 24 hours and has a range of 70-110 miles, respectively a 220 volt outlet will reduce hours for PEV to 3 and BEV to 8 and on a commercial charging station reducing the time to 30 minutes each”” (TVA EVS. p 11).

While it appears that charge times are still on the lack luster side of the debate when whether one should switch from gas to electric, many states around the US offer incentives to promote early adoption. Though many incentives vary from state to state most revolve around cash rebates as a reward. The US Department of Energy has cost calculators to determine how much one drives on average and spends on gas and therefore how much you would save by switching to a more eco friendly alternative.

The Department of Energy shows that the annual cost of standard maintenance for PHEV and HEV averages about “”$3000 while comparatively flex fuel vehicles (FFV) cost around $4000 a year; although overall purchasing price with a five year loan at 6% interest and 10% down payment put PHEV at the most expensive option at $37000 and FFV and HEV at $32000″” (Afdc.energy.gov, 2018).

The long charge times along with the relatively short drive range according to the 2011 EPRI study and the hefty cost and lengthy return on an electric vehicle from the according to the DoE seem to be the biggest hurdles in what prevents people from transitioning outright. But the biggest reason is simply that the vehicles and benefits granted by the government are not good enough or affordable for the average American. “”Last year the average household income was $59000, the highest it has been since 1999″” (Loudenback, 2018). The average cost of your standard electric car varies from $25000-37000 after tax credits from the government (Douris, 2018). The problem with this according to Jon LeSage of OilPrice.com is that “”79% of those who did get tax credits after buying a car were households that made over $100,000 a year”” (American. 2018). It is not that people are refusing to adopt it is that they cannot afford to.

The average American is highly interested in electric vehicles and in purchasing them. But it all comes down to a matter of price and while yes all vehicles are expensive, the only people buying electric cars are those with money to burn. The average American will not buy an electric car, not from the lack of wanting. Based on the average income of Americans and the time it takes to reap the rewards of an electric vehicle, your average American will not buy an electric car to replace their gas powered, not until wages increase or electric cars become cheaper themselves.


  1. Afdc.energy.gov. (2018). Alternative Fuels Data Center: Vehicle Cost Calculator Assumptions and Methodology. [online] Available at: https://www.afdc.energy.gov/calc/cost_calculator_methodology.html [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].
  2. American, E. (2018). Electric cars are failing to woo the average American. [online] Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/electric-cars-roadblocks-tax-credit-2018-4 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].
  3. Douris, C. (2018). The Bottom Line On Electric Cars: They’re Cheaper To Own. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/constancedouris/2017/10/24/the-bottom-line-on-electric-cars-theyre-cheaper-to-own/#37d56e7410b6 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].
  4. Loudenback, T. (2018). Middle-class Americans made more money last year than ever before. [online] Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/us-census-median-income-2017-9 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].
  5. TVA Electric Vehicle Survey: Consumer Expectations for Electric Vehicles. (2011). [online] Available at: https://www.epri.com/#/pages/product/1022729/?lang=en [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].
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When Will the Average American Buy Their First Electric Car?. (2019, Mar 04). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/when-will-the-average-american-buy-their-first-electric-car/

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