Even with cheap gas prices, there is great interest in electric vehicles from car buyers. A new AAA survey reports that more than 30 million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. The association predicts a great future for electric vehicles due to increased sales, longer battery ranges and lower costs. The group announced the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.
Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering says that lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies setup electric vehicles to be a key vehicle of the future. He noted that Tesla has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.
Even with gas prices are about 40 percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.
The primary reason for electric vehicle buying is concern for the environment, however AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool (HOV) lanes are all influential. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.
Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70 percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%).
With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide. Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.
In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best Overall: Tesla Model X 75D
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best Subcompact Car: Chevy Bolt EV Premier
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best Compact Car: Volkswagen e-Golf SE
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best Midsize Car: Lexus GS 450h F Sport
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best Large Car: Tesla Model S 60
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best Pickup Ford: F150 XLT Super Crew
- Winner 2017 AAA’s Top Green Vehicle Award Best SUV: Tesla Model X; 75D
While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” – the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.
To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States.