Surprise (not), most Americans in survey think EVs are way too expensive

It’s easy to find blog posts and articles on the seismic shift in vehicle prices and market behavior over the past couple of years. While the loudest voices on the internet often miss the mark on true public opinion, the 2023 Deloitte Automotive Consumer Study showed that more than half of new car buyers think electric vehicles cost too much.

Deloitte polled more than 26,000 people worldwide in the fall of 2022. The 2,000 or so Americans surveyed said they want to buy EVs, but most think they’re too expensive. Most – almost seven in 10 – said they expect their next vehicle to cost less than $50,000, ruling out a sizable chunk of the EVs on sale today. New EVs sold on average for $65,041 in November, according to Kelley Blue Book.

At the same time, the intent to purchase a new internal combustion vehicle fell by 6 percentage points in 2022, to 62 percent.

Prospective buyers also cited range and charging times as significant concerns, with 48 and 47 percent claiming them as factors, respectively. Public charging infrastructure, or the lack thereof, was an issue for 46 percent of respondents. Interestingly, 46 percent of U.S. respondents said they'd prefer to pay for a feature or service up front rather than through a monthly subscription. Only 20 percent said they would like subscription services for vehicle features, while 33 percent said they'd be fine paying on a per-use basis at least. So the annoying trend of adding features via subscription services might not be the golden idea many automakers seem to think it is.

Deloitte asked the type of car people want to buy next, and the responses from global participants are fun to break down. In the U.S. 62 percent of people said they wanted a gas vehicle, 20 percent said hybrid, 8 percent said PHEV, and 8 percent said EV.

In South Korea, however, just 38 percent noted wanting to buy a new ICE vehicle, while 27 percent want an EV. Those numbers shift in Japan to 36 percent for both ICE and hybrids.

Automakers have so far not been able to pull off the “affordable EV” promise with any notable success. Tesla sold a $35,000 Model 3 only briefly, and volume automaker Ford’s Mustang Mach-E starts at nearly $50,000. Chevrolet and Nissan offer EVs under $30,000 in the Bolt and Leaf, while the Hyundai Kona EV, Mini Cooper SE, and Volkswagen ID.4 slide in under the $40,000 mark.

Many companies choose to sell more expensive EV models up front to help recoup some of the cost of research and development and to drum up interest in exotic features and extreme performance numbers. The expensive-first approach also gives automakers time to fortify their supply chains and scale production techniques before releasing a volume-seller. So it's worth noting that GM has the Chevrolet Equinox EV coming in fall 2023 with a promised $30,000 starting price — we may see the tides shifting in the next couple of years.

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