Research Shows EV Buyers Don’t Research Chargers

Most electric vehicle (EVs) owners conduct little to no research on charging infrastructure before purchasing new vehicles until they bring their electric vehicles home, according to a study released today by clean energy software leader Uplight and See Change Institute. Added to this, most did not consider their utility when looking for any information around EVs, despite an abundance of utility EV-related resources.

The majority of those surveyed qualify as “reactive chargers,” only pursuing in-depth charging research after encountering a charger-related issue with their electric vehicles, such as high electricity bills after charging at home. For these participants, the extent of their charging research before purchasing the vehicle is limited to checking for an outlet in the garage. Many participants admit to “figuring it out as they go,” rather than researching charging options, capabilities, and cost before the major purchase of the vehicle itself.

While participants acknowledged the importance of conducting research on charging options, few were familiar with the guidance offered by their utilities. The findings also convey a hesitancy to purchase Level 2 chargers proactively, with participants most often considering Level 2 chargers only after experiencing slow charging times with Level 1. Participants in the focus group overwhelmingly preferred charging their vehicles at home rather than at community chargers, but they are largely unaware of the tools readily available to guide them in doing so efficiently.

Those participants who did conduct in-depth research failed to take advantage of the utility offerings and primarily relied upon social media and YouTube for information, rather than seeking information specific to their home or lifestyle or by contacting qualified professionals. The ongoing switch to EVs requires a paradigm shift for consumers to look to their utility when they typically look to dealers and gas stations when it comes to fueling their car.

“Many of the EV owners we talked to cited busy lifestyles or lack of time for doing their own research on charging cost, tools and options. The research on recent EV owners echoed my personal experience purchasing an EV this fall, the lack of education and engagement and the decision to charge at home. We believe these insights show an excellent opportunity for utilities to become a trusted energy advisor and create a one-stop customer experience that helps walk customers through all available options, help them identify rebates and better understand how owning an EV will affect their electric bill,” said Devren Hobbs, Vice President of Product of Emerging Technology at Uplight. “Uplight’s EV Solutions help utilities get ahead of the EV curve and their decarbonization goals while helping customers proactively understand and optimize charging while creating a deeper utility-customer relationship that extends beyond electric vehicles.”

Other Research Highlights:

  • While participants hadn’t previously utilized their utility’s EV resources, they were open to doing so in the future, and preferred a single EV resource on cars, chargers, rebates, and related costs. Participants said had they known about the offering, they would have taken advantage of it.
  • Most participants charge their EVs at home and overnight. This is driven by convenience and a perception that public chargers are a hassle, risky, and/or time-consuming. Participants were hesitant to install Level 2 chargers even after research because of the need to find an electrician for installation and electric panel upgrade.
  • Most participants are unaware of EV specific rates or other EV and charging-related offerings from their utility.

Uplight partnered with See Change Institute to conduct a focus group of recent EV owners. Utilities interested in learning more about how customers think about EV charging can sign up for a webinar on February 3rd, 2022 @ 11:00 am MT to learn more.