Watt? Electric Cars Cause Another Great Generational Divide

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A new study suggests more Millennials in the Northeast are embracing electric cars faster than Baby Boomers, even as all acknowledge electric cars are the future. According to Drive Change. Drive Electric. campaign, Millennials are more accepting of electric cars than Baby Boomers in the Northeast. While more than half of all people surveyed are considering an electric car when shopping for a new vehicle, this increases to 63% when considering only Millennials and falls to 38% with Baby Boomers alone.

If either group follows through on its level of interest in electric vehicles, the Northeast will see a huge spike in electric vehicle sales, which currently make up about 2% of new vehicle purchases in the region.

“To date, electric car sales have been dominated by Gen-X men,” said Julia Rege, Senior Director, Environment & Energy, at the Association of Global Automakers. “However, with two out of three Millennials considering an electric car for their next vehicle, we could see a substantial shift in the marketplace. This promising news suggests that we are on the brink of a technology revolution that will ultimately be driven by Millennials. Baby Boomers may take longer to learn about this great technology and get comfortable with it, but they won’t be far behind.”

While there are still some barriers and mis-perceptions to address – to put it mildly and euphemistically –  there are also findings from the study that “inspire confidence that electric cars are on track to become the norm for drivers of all ages. Both Millennials and Boomers overwhelmingly agree—despite some stark generational differences on electric car knowledge—electric is the future of automobiles.” (Autocrat: show us the money not the hype)

Both generations are also “eager” to see more electric vehicle models introduced. “Although we know the future is bright for electric cars, the need for education and awareness of the benefits of driving electric has reached a critical point,” said Elaine O’Grady, Policy and Program Director at the Northeast States for Coordinated Use Management.

The study also cites information about purchase motivators and barriers for electric cars. One of the biggest purchase motivators for both generations (Baby Boomers – 81%; Millennials – 84%) is the national and state financial incentive programs which includes tax credits and rebates.

One of the biggest barriers to purchase, regardless of age, is that people are worried there is a lack of charging infrastructure. In the Northeast, 83% of people surveyed believe that there are not enough charging stations available – more Baby Boomers (87%) agree with this than Millennials (79%). However, almost half of the survey respondents have noticed an increase of available charging stations in their local areas.

“In the Northeast, hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in building out charging infrastructure to meet growing demand. In the last year alone, the number of public charging stations increased by more than 20% in the Northeast, and there are plans to add even more stations in 2019,” continued Elaine O’Grady, who didn’t thank the overburdened taxpayers in the northeast that is causing a Florida boom.

“Also, people without electric cars often don’t realize that most charging takes place at home overnight. In any event, the fact that people are noticing more charging stations in their communities is encouraging and a clear indicator that we are making significant progress toward raising awareness and building confidence that public charging stations are available.”

The study also found that consumers are still worried about the range of electric vehicles. In fact, eight out of ten people surveyed said they have concerns about the distance you can drive an electric vehicle before needing to re-charge it.

This finding according to the fuzzy illogic of the Association of Global Automakers points to the need to increase consumer knowledge about electric cars because concerns about range can easily be addressed by choosing the technology and model that is best suited to the customer’s needs. In other words, dissolve the people and elect a new one suitable to automakers.

“Automakers offer over 40 models of electric cars in almost every vehicle segment from SUVs to sedans and many more are coming over the next few years,” said Steve Douglas, Senior Director, Energy & Environment, at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Customers can also choose from battery electric vehicles that can go 250 miles on a single charge, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that offer a combined range from electricity and gasoline to up to 600 miles, and fuel cell electric vehicles that can go up to 350 miles on a single tank of hydrogen.”

Statistics from the ‘Drive Change. Drive Electric.’

  • Electric cars are on the brink of an ‘electric boom’: Only three% of Northeasterners are currently driving an electric vehicle, however 52% are considering an electric vehicle as their next purchase.
  • Availability of charging stations is the number one concern of drivers: 83% say there are not currently enough charging locations for electric vehicles but encouragingly, nearly 50% have noticed more electric vehicle charging stations in their area over the past year.
  • There is a real question mark around electric driving distances: 81% of Northeast motorists are concerned about the distance you can drive an electric vehicle before needing to re-charge.
  • A cost dilemma faces potential electric car buyers: Despite two in three Northeasterners (64%) believing electric vehicles will allow them to save money overall, 85% cite the high upfront costs as a barrier.
  • The electric car knowledge gap is gender blind: More than half (53%) of Northeasterners don’t feel knowledgeable about electric vehicles and this is particularly high among women (64%).
  • There are positive indicators that electric is here to stay: 60% of Northeasterners say their household is more likely to consider an electric vehicle today versus a year ago. 82% of Northeasterners want to see more types of electric vehicles available in the marketplace.
  • The drive to reduce our environmental footprint: 88% of Northeasterners want to reduce their vehicle emissions footprint and three in four acknowledge that gas powered vehicles are becoming antiquated.
  • The rise of local charging stations visibility will drive electric consideration greatly: 80% of Northeasterners would be more likely to consider EVs if there were more charging stations available in their area.

Battery Electric Vehicle

A battery electric vehicle is a car that is 100% powered by an electric motor. There is no gasoline required, and owners “fuel up” by plugging in overnight at home or to an expanding network of charging stations. Like a cellphone, the battery stores the charge to power the car when it is running. With a variety of battery electric vehicles on the market, you can choose one that drives anywhere from 80 to 250 miles on a full charge. “Refueling” times can vary – typically, 30 minutes for fast charging and 4 to 6 hours with Level 2, depending on the size and current depletion of the battery.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a vehicle that is powered by a combination of an electric motor and a gasoline engine. Like a battery electric vehicle, the vehicle can be plugged in to charge and will run on the battery for some or all of your drive – from 15 to 50 miles. Unlike a battery electric vehicle, once the battery charge is depleted, the gasoline kicks in and the vehicle runs like a fuel efficient gas-powered hybrid car to extend the range of the vehicle. This makes the combined range from electricity and gasoline, 350-600 miles, comparable to a gas-powered car. Recharging the battery is completed easily overnight using either Level 1 (120V) or Level 2 (240V) charging, and a quick stop by the gasoline station can fill up the tank in about 5 minutes.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

A fuel cell electric vehicle is powered by an electric drive motor and uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity. Like a gas-powered car, they are capable of refueling in 3-5 minutes, but at a hydrogen dispenser instead of a gas pump. Driving range is comparable to gas cars, about 300-350 miles on each tank of hydrogen. Hydrogen fueling stations, however, are not yet widely available outside of California, and as of April 2018, these vehicles are currently only available for sale in California. FCEVs will be introduced in select northeast states once hydrogen refueling stations are built.

About ‘Drive Change. Drive Electric.’

Drive Change. Drive Electric. represents a unique public-private partnership between auto manufacturers and Northeast states to advance consumer awareness, understanding, consideration and adoption of electric cars, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel cell electric vehicles. By showcasing to drivers and passengers the convenience, affordability, technology, sustainability and power performance of electric vehicles, Drive Change. Drive Electric. aims to put more electric cars on the road than ever before.

The Big Money

This campaign includes the following automakers: BMW Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Hyundai Motor America, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, Kia Motors America, Mazda USA, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan North America, Subaru of America, Inc., Toyota Motor North America, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo Cars.

State partners include New York, Connecticut, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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