A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll shows that electric vehicles of all sorts have experienced a slowdown in market growth over the past two years. In fact, sales figures have remained relatively unchanged as of July 2015. However, this is not necessarily bad news for the electric-car industry, which includes electric golf carts, electric low-speed vehicles (LSVs), neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), full-sized electric vehicles and hybrids.
In 2013, U.S. sales topped 500,000 for the first time, and this feat was repeated the following year. As of August 1, 2015, approximately 290,000 electric cars were sold. This total includes all vehicles that have at least some of their momentum generated from batteries. Of this total, 120,000 were models that directly plug into power stations.
Half of U.S. Interested in Electric
While electric golf cart manufacturers would like to see higher sales, they are content with the figures for the first seven months of 2015. However, some industry analysts are still trying to discover exactly why electric vehicles continue to represent only 3 percent of total vehicle sales in the U.S. when several major automobile manufacturers added electric or electric-hybrid models to their lineups.
According to the survey, about 50 percent of U.S. automobile owners, including anticipated owners, stated that they will keep traditional hybrid cars under consideration the next time they go shopping for a vehicle. Again, this figure has not changed over the past two years.
Other types of electric vehicles, however, have gained some ground. Plugin hybrids and plug-in electrics are both up by 2 percent to 29 percent and 21 percent, respectively. In addition, 19 percent said they would consider a car with a diesel engine, and 35 percent would consider a smaller gasoline vehicle to save on energy costs, the latter being a decrease of 3 percent from 2013.
Survey Reveals Electric Vehicle Demographics
The 2015 Harris Poll survey of electric vehicles has revealed some interesting and useful information about who is purchasing and who is considering the purchase of such models:
- Millennials are more likely to buy traditional hybrids than any other age group at 57 percent. In comparison, Generation Xers are at 49 percent, baby boomers are at 43 percent and seniors are at 38 percent.
- Millennials are also the most likely to purchase plug-in hybrid models at 39 percent versus 28 percent for Generation Xers, 22 percent of boomers and 23 percent of seniors.
- Once again, millennials are at the top with 34 percent saying they would buy a purely electric vehicle. Generation X is at 17 percent, boomers are showing 14 percent and seniors trail at 11 percent.
- More than 25 percent of men are willing to consider an electric vehicle while only 17 percent of women say they would do so.
- Those who travel an average of 50 miles per day or more, defined as distance drivers, are the most likely to purchase a plugin hybrid at 38 percent or a purely electric vehicle at 32 percent. Of people who travel 30 miles or less on an average day, only 28 percent would consider a plug-in hybrid, and only 18 percent would consider a fully electric car.
- Along political lines, Democrats and independents are more willing to purchase electric vehicles than Republicans are. The breakdown for traditional hybrids is 53 percent Democrat, 52 percent independent and 42 percent Republican. For plugin hybrids, the figures are 34 percent, 32 percent and 20 percent while the numbers for fully electric vehicles are 26 percent, 25 percent and 10 percent, respectfully.
Top Concerns About Electric Vehicles
The survey also tracked the top concerns U.S. residents hold concerning electric vehicles. The biggest concern is the price at 67 percent, which is followed by range at 64 percent, maintenance costs at 58 percent, reliability at 53 percent and performance at 50 percent. In addition, 42 percent stated that they were wary because they believe the technology is too new and has yet to be fully proven through real-world tests.
Breaking down the top concern of price by age, the survey found that it drops in descending order of age groups. The price was listed by 73 percent of seniors, 71 percent of baby boomers, 63 percent of Generation Xers and 63 percent of millennials. The phenomenon also holds true for range: 75 percent for seniors and boomers, 58 percent of Generation Xers and 52 percent of millennials.
The top concern for people considering the purchase of all types of new vehicles is reliability at 93 percent, but this cannot be considered a barrier is standing in the way of the adoption of electric vehicles in mainstream society.
The top barrier for electric vehicles, price, is also the second-leading barrier for all vehicles at 81 percent. This is good news for electric golf cart manufacturers because comparative costs are slowly dropping as manufacturing becomes increasingly efficient and production costs decrease. However, analysts are quick to point out that only time will tell whether falling prices will lead to higher sales.
The Harris Poll survey on electric vehicles was conducted in the U.S. the week of May 20 to May 26, 2015. A total of 2,225 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older were polled. The various demographic groups, such as age, sex, race, household income, region, and race, were weighted when it became necessary to make them comparable to the actual proportions within the total U.S. population. Scores were also weighted to adjust for the propensity of the respondents to be online. Although Harris Poll does not issue a margin of error, the organization admits that all sample surveys are subject to errors from multiple sources.
Electric golf cart manufacturers are hopeful that sales will increase year over year for the foreseeable future, and forecasts show that this has a high probability of becoming reality. We can only wait to see whether the forecasts are accurate.