Consumers Overestimate the EV Market

They think there are a lot more EVs on the market than reality, and they want EV charging at convenience stores.

April 20, 2022

Customer waits for EV to Charge

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Most U.S. drivers (52%) say they have positive impressions of electric vehicles (EVs), compared to only 18% who have negative opinions. And nearly half (48%) say they have developed a more favorable opinion of EVs during the past few months, according to a new survey released by NACS.

These positive impressions may be one reason why drivers also say EV sales and market penetration are much higher than they actually are. Drivers surveyed by NACS believe that 20% of all new cars sold in 2021 were EVs—when only 3% of all cars sold were EVs—and that 15% of vehicles on the road are EVs, while less than 1% are. Younger consumers ages 18-34 are far more likely to overstate EV growth, saying that 25% of car sales are EVs and that 20% of vehicles on the road are EVs.

Convenient Charging Access Is Critical

Access to charging outside of the home is an important consideration for drivers. Most Americans (54%) say they don’t have the ability to charge at work or home, and only 42% say they live in a house or apartment with a garage suitable for charging, according to the results of a 2020 NACS consumer survey.

In the 2022 survey, more than 3 in 5 drivers say EV charging outside of their home would be hard to find (61%) and that EVs need to be charged more frequently than traditional gas fill ups. Forty percent say EVs need to be charged more often, and only 16% say less often.

With the Biden Administration’s goal to install 500,000 EV chargers throughout the United States, most drivers also say that installing chargers at convenience stores selling gasoline should be a high priority (58%), significantly higher than other locations including parking lots/garages (45%), hotels (40%), grocery/big-box stores (33%), shopping malls (32%) and restaurants (20%).

There are an estimated 145,000 fueling outlets in the country, including 116,641 convenience stores that sell fuel. Convenience stores sell approximately 80% of the fuels purchased in the United States. Fuel sales comprised 61% of total convenience store sales of $705.7 billion in 2021, according to newly released NACS State of the Industry data.

“The survey results show that advertising works. Super Bowl commercials and other high-profile ad campaigns related to EVs have made an impression and set the bar for growth. Consumers say that convenience stores are the most logical place to charge, replicating the experience of traditional fueling,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

NACS and the Fuels Institute’s Electric Vehicle Council co-developed EV-related questions as part of the NACS Consumer Fuels Survey, a national consumer survey conducted February 17-21 by national public opinion research firm Core Decision Analytics (CODA). Overall, 1,209 American adults were surveyed, including 1,090 who said they are regular gas customers.

NACS and the Fuels Institute recently aired a Convenience Matters podcast, “Where Do EVs Make the Most Sense?” that discusses the survey results.