Electric Vehicle Owners Feeling More at Home on the Range

Vehicle range, charging, and price concerns fade with exposure to the technology

BOISE – (January 22, 2020) – While nearly 40 million Americans have expressed interest in purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), a lingering perception that the technology can’t compete with a gas-powered model has kept many from making the switch.  But according to AAA’s latest research, it may be time to put some of those fears to rest.

In a recent AAA survey, nine in ten EV owners say they had at least one serious concern prior to purchasing their car, the most common being limited vehicle range and a perceived lack of charging stations.  But after experiencing the technology for themselves, 77 percent of those who were originally concerned about insufficient range became less or no longer concerned, and 70 percent of those who worried about charging options became less or no longer concerned.

“Some people see electric vehicles as something out of a science fiction movie, but the reality is that they’re here to stay, and they’re getting better and better,” says AAA Idaho Public Affairs Director Matthew Conde.   “Taking an EV on a cross-country vacation might require a bit more planning, but for most of us, current EV technology is more than adequate for our daily routine.”

Two in five EV owners say they drive more now than when they owned a gas-powered car, and a whopping 95 percent of respondents say that they have never run out of a charge.  While previous AAA research shows that EV range drops dramatically in extreme hot and cold temperatures, onboard systems provide ample warning that the vehicle’s charge is running low.

“Not everyone is ready to say goodbye to their gas guzzler,” Conde pointed out.  “About three-quarters of current EV owners also have one or more gas-powered cars, but that will change as more people evolve from using electrics as a commuter vehicle to more of a long-range option.”

AAA says that electric vehicles require less maintenance than their fuel-filled counterparts, because they never need an oil change or air-filter replacement.  If properly maintained according to manufacturer recommendations, an EV costs about $949 per year to operate, which is $330 less than a gas-powered car.  There’s also some savings from skipping the pump – the electricity required to drive 15,000 miles per year costs an average of $546, while the equivalent amount of gas costs an average of $1,255, or 130% more.

The total cost of owning a new compact EV is about $7,704 per year – about $590 more than a comparable gas-powered model.  The biggest expense associated with EV ownership is depreciation, but as the different vehicle types approach six years old or older, the depreciation gap between gas and electric starts to narrow.

AAA calculated the true cost of vehicle ownership using data from its annual Your Driving Costs research.  For purposes of this study, the average cost of owning and operating various electric vehicles was compared with the average cost of a sample of similarly-sized gas-powered sedans.  The latest version of Your Driving Costs can be found online here.

AAA also publishes the Green Car Guide on an annual basis, rating several vehicles for eco-friendliness without neglecting other important details, including safety, handling, comfort, braking, and acceleration.  Drivers can review the top-rated vehicles by class, price range, and more in the latest Green Car Guide, which can be found here.

“More than anything, we would encourage potential EV owners to see the technology in action,” Conde said.  “Talk to EV owners that you know, and above all, head to your local dealer for a test drive, and come prepared with a lot of questions about how these vehicles perform.  Once you have all the facts, you can make an informed decision on which vehicle will meet your needs.”