Posted on January 09, 2017 by Matt Pressman
Although Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] has grown quickly over the past few years, it appears that the majority of U.S. auto buyers remain unaware of electric vehicles altogether. According to Car and Driver*, a recent study of 2557 Americans asked, "Which of the following best describes your knowledge of electric vehicles?” About 60 percent picked the multiple-choice answers “I’ve never heard of electric vehicles” or “I’ve heard of electric vehicles but I don’t know much about them.” Furthermore, 80 percent of those questioned had never driven or been a passenger in an electric car.
Above: Teslas lined up at the Fremont factory (Instagram: bwachner)
According to the research company, Altman Vilandrie & Company (AVC), who executed the survey: "even many respondents with knowledge of EV technology showed skepticism about their viability as alternatives to conventional cars. AVC reported that 85 percent think the current charging network is inadequate, 83 percent say today’s electric vehicles cost too much, and 74 percent say charging takes too long." I'd bet if some of these survey respondents were aware of Tesla's Supercharger network that they'd be surprised and (perhaps) intrigued.
Above: Tesla Model S charging at Supercharger station (Instagram: unclewow)
In addition, "AVC’s analysis of the survey indicated that there would be an uptick of growth (AVC estimates 24 times the current market) for the electric-car industry if the vehicles were priced lower, specifically around $35,000. That’s certainly a possibility, with the Chevrolet Bolt dipping to less than $30,000 after tax incentives and the upcoming Tesla Model 3 priced at $35,000." Moe Kelley, co-director of the survey explains: "There are signs of strong latent demand in the marketplace. The auto industry still needs to make more low-priced models available to consumers as well as finding a way for more drivers to try out an EV. If those things happen, we should see the EV adoption rate accelerate."
Above: Tesla Model 3 (Instagram: teslausa via Motor Trend)
Indeed... the ~400,000 pre-orders for Tesla Model 3 clearly demonstrates that lower-priced electric vehicles will attract consumers. In fact, the survey also found that, "Of the people who had experienced EVs, 60 percent said they enjoyed them, and only 8 percent said they didn’t." All this points to the enormous potential Tesla could have once awareness grows for both its own brand and electric vehicles in general. This could be part of the reason Elon Musk often applauds EV competition. The more folks learn about EVs, the better for Tesla.
*Source: Car and Driver