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New CarGurus research shows increasing buyer openness and excitement towards EVs

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on April 14, 2021

As electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain popularity in the US, this topic has taken on a heightened focus throughout the auto industry. In February, CarGurus surveyed 1,097 automobile owners in the US to get a pulse on their sentiments towards EVs. Overall, 30% of respondents noted that they were probably or definitely likely to own an EV in the next five years – a number that has doubled since 2018. And while Tesla is the trusted leader in tech development, consumers are increasingly open to other brands when it comes time to go electric.

In this emerging space, buyers are excited by the possibilities and less brand loyal, so there are opportunities for more competitors to disrupt the market. For dealers, now is the time to get ahead of the demand curve and start having conversations about electric vehicles with prospective buyers.

Below we’ve highlighted four key dealer takeaways from the study. For a summary of the results, download the CarGurus 2021 Electric Vehicle Report here.

Openness to EVs has quickly risen in the US

Interest in EVs has grown steadily since 2018 when we first started surveying consumers on the topic. Only 30% of car owners plan to own an EV within the next five years. However, that number increases to over half (52%) among those who plan to own one within the next decade. When it comes to acquiring an EV, though most shoppers would prefer to buy new, close to half would consider buying CPO (45%) or used (42%).

Ownership logistics and accessibility are the leading barriers to adoption

The leading barrier to adoption among car owners is the accessibility of charging stations, followed closely by the availability of replacement parts, including batteries. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say that making more charging stations widely available would be the most effective way to convince them to buy an EV, while 62% cite ease of finding replacement parts, including batteries. Another key concern when considering going electric? Gas prices. More than half of respondents (57%) would be much more likely to consider EVs if gas prices reach $5/gallon.

Gas vehicles still dominate, but EVs are becoming the primary household vehicles

Not surprisingly, many of those who already own alternative fuel vehicles still own internal gas vehicles as well. Almost half (48%) of EV owners and 43% of hybrid owners still own gas or diesel-powered vehicles. However, three-quarters of both EV and hybrid owners say they use their alternative fuel vehicles as their primary vehicles.

Consumers are open to a variety of brands when it comes time to buy

While Tesla has earned its reputation as being the most trusted brand to develop EV technology, buyers are open-minded on which brands of electric vehicles they’d buy. Overall, more than three-quarters (78%) of those who plan to own an EV in the next decade say they’re open to several brands. When it comes time to go electric, SUVs and crossovers are in highest demand among buyers, though few are available.

For dealers, one thing is clear: embracing EVs in the coming months and years will be crucial to both addressing long-term demand and catering to changing shopper preferences. For more takeaways, view the full report here.

Topics: CarGurus data, consumer insights, electric vehicles, EVs