U.S. consumers are embracing both the promise and the concerns about driving electric vehicles (EVs), with survey numbers showing strong jumps on both the pros and cons of battery-powered cars, according to research from the consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP (EY).
U.S. consumer interest in EVs is at an all-time high, with about half (48%) of U.S. car buyers intending to purchase an EV in the next 24 months, the firm said in its “EY Mobility Consumer Index (MCI),” a global survey of more than 15,000 consumers from 20 countries.
That result shows a 19-point rise compared to the 29% of Americans who said the same thing in last year’s study. And it boosted the U.S. to jump five spots in EV readiness overall, reaching the seventh-place ranking. The top three most EV-ready nations are China, Norway, and Sweden.
One reason for the rise is the quick recovery of U.S. consumers from pandemic malaise. In 2023, the share of existing car owners intending to buy new cars in the U.S. showed a 3% increase, with the U.S. showing a significantly higher car-buying intent (12% growth to 60%) compared with the global average (which remained flat year over year at 44%).
To meet those eager shoppers, car companies are likely to invest in EV models for larger vehicles, since 38% of North American buyers prefer an SUV over a sedan or other vehicle type. That result should spark the continued rise of the electric SUV — or SU(E)V—EY said.
Consumer confidence in EV performance has also steadily grown over the past two years, as more buyers say they’re considering buying an EV specifically because they believe it outperforms internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicles on the road.
"There are a few critical drivers to adopt EVs on a large scale, from consumer sentiment, to regulatory incentives, and cost," Felipe Smolka, EY Americas Automotive eMobility Leader, said in a release. "Government incentives, such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), make a large impact not just on consumers, but across industries. As more EV accessibility and incentives arise, whether its developing charging stations on interstate highways or driving battery circularity, we will see EV adoption thrive."
However, that growing enthusiasm is countered by a parallel rise in concerns about EV charging infrastructure, costs, and safety, EY found. A lack of charging stations continued to be the top deterrent for potential car buyers in the U.S., the same as 2022. Over half (51%) of U.S. consumers are more worried about finding a charging station in nonresidential facilities than expensive charging costs. Further, the safety of home chargers remains a concern, with 57% of potential US buyers citing safety of home chargers as the key deterrent — 10% higher than global counterparts.
"Consumers need access to safe, reliable, convenient and affordable charging to drive and own an EV, and our research shows real concerns remain," Marc Coltelli, EY Americas eMobility Energy Leader, said in a release. "At the EY organization, we are predicting 82 million EVs will be on U.S. roads by 2035. To scale adoption, the challenge confronting America's transition to EVs is instilling charging confidence among consumers. The energy industry has a massive role to play in this transition and is seizing the opportunity by collaborating cross-sector to build and power a resilient EV charging network."