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Consumer interest in EVs accelerated after gas prices spiked, according to CarGurus research

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on May 5, 2022

In April 2022, CarGurus released the results from its annual survey of automobile owners on their sentiments towards electric vehicles (EVs). It’s the fourth year the online survey has been conducted, and the results show that EVs continue to pose a huge opportunity for dealerships and the auto industry as a whole.

Here are the key findings, plus what they mean for dealers:

Excitement for EVs is being fueled by the reality of high gas prices

Since the first iteration of this study in 2018, interest in electric vehicles has risen steadily each year. In February and March of this year, though, excitement and readiness for adoption stagnated until the reality of high gas prices set in in April – 32% and 34% of consumers surveyed in February and March (respectively) expected to own an EV in five years, only a slight lift from 30% in 2021, whereas 40% of consumers surveyed in April said the same.

The takeaway for dealers: Pay attention to economic and industry trends. With a deep understanding of the market on a broader scale, you’ll be able to adapt your business strategy to stay ahead.

Consumers are open to a variety of brands when it comes to buying EVs

While Tesla has been the top brand choice for consumers year after year, its dominance over other brands is shrinking as other automakers introduce their own electric vehicle models. Almost half (45%) of consumers surveyed said they would consider purchasing an EV from Tesla, followed by Toyota (44%) and Honda (40%). For hybrids, consumers are most likely to consider Toyota (47%), Honda (39%), and Ford (33%).

The takeaway for dealers: Expand your used car inventory to include a variety of EV brands, and make sure they’re highly visible in your showroom so shoppers can easily chem them out.

Dealerships have a huge role to play in selling EVs

While EVs may feel like uncharted territory for dealerships, there’s ample opportunity for them – and buyers would prefer it that way. People considering electric show preference for an in-person visit, though half would consider starting the process online ahead of time. Far fewer would be open to buying an EV entirely online.

The takeaway for dealers: Fine tune your sales process and digital retail tactics to capture EV buyers and equip your staff with the knowledge to explain the cost of ownership differences between electric and ICE vehicles, battery lifetime, and more. Your team’s enthusiasm and knowledge should spark excitement in shoppers.

Barriers like high costs and access to charging remain for consumers

67% of respondents believe that EVs are the future, but many are not yet ready to stomach the costs – only 39% say EVs are currently worth their higher asking prices. Buyers could be convinced to go electric, though, if charging ranges improve (43%), if there were more charging bays available (43%), or if EVs cost the same as gas-powered vehicles (40%). And while new is the preferred condition, four in 10 say they would consider a used electric vehicle.

The takeaway for dealers: Consider acquiring a handful of used off-brand EVs to attract shoppers looking for a lower price tag.

Consumers want dealerships involved in vehicle servicing

Though EVs tend to have fewer mechanical parts that break down, when they do need maintenance, they’ll likely require specialized capabilities. Plus, 80% of buyers would prefer to get their EV serviced at a dealership. When you invest in meaningful training and the right equipment, you’ll be on your way to more billable service hours — and revenue — for your dealership.

The takeaway for dealers: Start training your service staff on complex EV maintenance today so you’re prepared for EV service appointments down the road.

One thing is clear: embracing EVs in the coming months and years will be crucial to addressing long-term demand and catering to changing shopper preferences. For more takeaways, download the full CarGurus 2022 Electric Vehicle Insight Report.

Topics: consumer insights, electric vehicles, EVs, shopper insights