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Today’s EV Skeptics are Tomorrow’s EV Buyers, Study Says

by | May 15, 2024

If you’ve got a friend claiming they’ll never buy an electric vehicle, check back with them in a few years. They’ll likely be sharing their secret charging spot with other EV owners, according to a new study.

2023 Subaru Solterra - with kayak

Today’s EV skeptics are soon to be tomorrow’s EV considerers — and ultimately buyers.

Less than 50% of new vehicle buyers are considering an electric vehicle right now, however, in as little as three years, more than half of them will have an EV on their shopping list and within 10 years, more than 80% will, claims the 2024 Path to EV Adoption, a study produced by Cox Automotive researchers.

Cox calls this first group — appropriately enough — “Skeptics.” They’re likely to change their mind as the nationwide charging network improves.

“While we’ve seen EV sales growth slow and consideration dip, we believe this is part of a normal growth curve and not the end of the story,” said Isabelle Helms, vice president of Research and Market Intelligence at Cox Automotive.

“We remain bullish on the long-term future of EV sales in America, as many Skeptics today will be carefully considering an EV by the end of the decade. With more infrastructure, education and technological innovation and improvements, we believe electric vehicle sales will continue to grow in the long term.”Cox EV buyer motivation graphic

The transition

Today’s skeptics are tomorrow’s fence sitters, according to the researchers, who dubbed those “Considerers.” Significant improvements in EV performance and the charging network will be the incentive needed to get them to begin considering an electric vehicle as part of their next new vehicle purchase process.

Current-day Considerers often note “price” as the top barrier holding them back from purchase. On the other hand, Skeptics consider the “lack of charging stations” the top barrier.

Right now, just 45% of consumers in the market for a vehicle within the next 12 months say they are considering an EV, down from last year when 51% of in-market shoppers were looking at EV options.

However, the seeds of change have been planted. In the 2026-to-2028 timeframe, research suggests that 79% of vehicle shoppers (both new and used) will be considering an electric vehicle. By 2033, 90% of all vehicle shoppers will have electric vehicles on their lists.

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Relationships are key

The study credits improved relations as a key factor in the expected rise of interest in EVs. However, it’s not the relationship between potential buyers and automakers that driving up interest in EVs but between automakers and dealers.Cox OEM involvement dealer EVs graphic

Dealerships report increased support in marketing, sales, and service since 2019 but also express a need for additional resources beyond training in selling EVs. Having EV incentives are high on their list, as are programs like free maintenance and funds for additional advertising.

Dealers also feel the urgency to sell: 65% of dealers report feeling pressure from their automakers to hit EV sales targets, up from 39% in 2019.

It certainly helps that dealers are committed to selling EVs — financially. Among franchised dealers, 86% say they are likely or somewhat likely to continue making investments required by the automakers. With this commitment to continue investing in EV infrastructure, dealers are signaling a collaborative effort to accelerate EV adoption.


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