Interest in Hybrid/​Electric Cars Remains Flat

Interest in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Shows Little Change Since 2013. Men are more interested than women in both electrics and diesels.åÊElectric cars ‰ÛÒ encompassing the full battery of products ranging from traditional hybrids, plug-​in hybrids and pure electric vehicles ‰ÛÒ have seen some impressive benchmarks come and go in recent years.

2013 and 2014 each saw sales for this segment exceeding the half-​million mark, and 2015 is on track for a repeat. As of the end of July, nearly 290,000 vehicles with a battery generating at least some of their momentum have been sold in the U.S., including nearly 120,000 plug-​in models (whether pure electrics or plug-​in hybrids). But while that is indisputably a lot of vehicles, 2015 sales numbers to date still represent the same 3% of total U.S. vehicle sales seen in 2012, before some major players joined the charge. But what might lie ahead for the segment?

Just under half of American car owners (or anticipated owners) say they‰Ûªd consider a traditional hybrid the next time they‰Ûªre in the market for a new vehicle (48%, identical to 2013 findings); lower consideration levels were recorded for plug-​in vehicles, whether they be hybrids (29%, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21%, also up 2 points). An additional 2 in 10 would consider a diesel (19%, up 3 points), while 35% would consider a smaller or gas powered vehicle to save on operating costs (down 3 points).

These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,225 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from May 20–26, 2015.

Most of these vehicles appeal more to some groups than to others:

  • Millennial drivers are more likely than their elder counterparts to consider a traditional hybrid, with 57% saying they‰Ûªd consider one (vs. 49% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 38% of Matures). This same trend holds true for plug-​in hybrids (39% vs. 28%, 22% and 23%) and pure electrics (34% vs. 17%, 14% and 11%), as well as for diesel vehicles (27% vs. 16%, 17% and 9%).
  • Men are more likely than women to consider an electric vehicle (25% men, 17% women) and more than twice as likely to indicate that they‰Ûªd consider a diesel (28% men, 11% women).
  • Distance drivers ‰ÛÒ those who travel over 50 miles in an average day ‰ÛÒ are especially likely to say they‰Ûªd consider a plug-​in hybrid (38%, vs. 28% of those traveling 30 miles or less in a typical day), a pure electric (32% vs. 18%) or a diesel (28% vs. 17%).
  • Democrats and Independents are more likely than Republicans to consider a traditional hybrid (53% Dem, 52% Ind and 42% Rep), a plug-​in hybrid (34%, 32% and 20%) or a pure electric (26%, 25% and 10%).

Barriers for electric vehicle consideration

When asked to select their top concerns related to pure electric vehicles, price (67%) and range (64%) rise to the top, followed by repair/​maintenance costs (58%), reliability (53%), performance/​power (50%) and the fact that it‰Ûªs still new technology (42%). Price (73% Matures, 71% Baby Boomers, 63% each Gen Xers and Millennials) and range (75%, 75%, 58% and 52%) are especially strong concerns among older Americans.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means that American drivers‰Ûª top concern when considering a new vehicle ‰ÛÒ reliability, which 93% rate ‰ÛÏvery important‰Û ‰ÛÒ is not among the top barriers standing in the way of electric car adoption. But money talks: in addition to being the top barrier to electric car adoption, purchase cost is the second most important consideration when looking at a new vehicle (with 81% considering it very important). Right now hybrids and electrics still come at a premium when shopped against otherwise comparable vehicles, but those comparative costs are slowly going down. Time will tell whether this might lead to stronger sales.

Get to know Hybrid/​Electric Car Shoppers better with AudienceSCAN's report that reveals 4% of consumers are considering these types of vehicles for their next purchase. 62% of them are male. Try targeting them through daily deals: 40.5% of shoppers took action after seeing one. Or consider magazine ads: 66% took action after reading one. Help them reach their goals ‰ÛÒ 31% set personal goals to be greener this year ‰ÛÒ and a hybrid can equal success. Make their decision to buy an electric car a smart one, because 28% of them want to buy things that make them feel intelligent.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.