Consumers Now Want EVs

Rising gas prices are the main reason, but environmental factors are also driving consumers to check out an electric future.

March 24, 2022

EVs for Sale on the Lot

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—With gas at record-high prices, American consumer interest in electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In the week that ended March 13, one-quarter of shoppers on said they would consider buying a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV, which is a 39% increase from the previous week and an 84% surge from the same week in February. Another survey found that more than two-thirds of Americans indicated they are nervous about rising fuel prices, and nearly half said EVs could provide a viable alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

Within the Edmunds survey, consumers who said they weren’t interested in an EV cited high purchase costs, limited charging infrastructure and the vehicles’ range capacity. However, supply chain snarls, demand and low inventory levels have many new vehicles, including EVs, difficult to obtain. The majority of EVs are already reserved before they hit dealer lots.

According to Edmunds, the biggest reason consumers are interested in EVs is the price of gasoline prices, followed by environmental concerns. That said, EVs are not always a greener solution than an ICE vehicle because most U.S. electricity comes from fossil fuels, and it’s much more carbon intensive to manufacture an EV than an ICE vehicle.

The amount of carbon emitted from an ICE vehicle versus an EV varies depending on U.S. region. On average, assuming a vehicle runs 200,000 miles, a battery electric vehicle emits 41% less carbon than an ICE vehicle, while a hybrid vehicle, which doesn’t require any charging infrastructure, emits 29% less carbon than an ICE vehicle, according to a new report from the Fuels Institute.

Looking at a market where lots of coal power plants are operating, West Virginia and Southwest Virginia for example, an EV with over 200,000 miles emits 16% more carbon than an ICE vehicle; however, in the Pacific Northwest where there is more renewable energy, an EV emits 73% less carbon.

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $4.236, according to AAA. Average prices for regular gasoline have been at record highs the past two weeks after going up for 11 straight weeks, reports the Wall Street Journal.

However, to be clear, inflation-adjusted gas prices aren’t at record highs. But if March prices average $4.22 a gallon, which they have so far, motorists will have been experienced the biggest month-over-month price increase since EIA records began in the mid-’70s.

(Here’s how to talk to your customers about why gas prices aren’t falling quickly enough.)

A recent Convenience Matters podcast episode discusses how EVs are the future, and another episode explains how convenience retailers can attract and retain EV customers.

Visit the NACS Electric Vehicles topics page for more information about EVs. The NACS EV Charging Calculator was created to allow retailers to assess the cost and profitability of offering EV chargers at their sites. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.

Read more about electricity demand charges and what they mean for retailers’ ability to turn a profit from EV charging in the September issue of NACS Magazine.