Electric Vehicle Consumer Adoption


April 13th, 2023

Post by Donna Marbury, Smart Columbus Storyteller

Where does Columbus stand when it comes to consumer electric vehicle (EV) awareness, knowledge and adoption?

In March 2018, Smart Columbus and research firm Navigant, published the findings of a survey of 900 people in the Columbus region who were identified as early adopters or early majority users for electric vehicles (EVs), and who were looking to buy a new car in the next four years. The survey measures respondents’ vehicle preferences, EV awareness, considerations when buying a car, barriers to purchase and other consumer characteristics. The goal of the survey was to baseline consumer understanding of and receptivity to electric vehice in the region, with the intent to repeat the survey at the conclusion of the Smart Columbus Electrification Program. The survey also helped Smart Columbus better understand opportunities and barriers to EV adoption in the region, and how measures of EV adoption compare to nationwide EV figures. 

We thought it was important to get a clear understanding of the consumer landscape in Columbus, in order to create programs, education and incentives to increase adoption. Here are a few key findings from the survey:

Who are early adopters?
The survey found that the ideal candidate for purchasing an EV in Columbus is more likely to be between the ages of 30 and 44, make $100,000 or more annually and hold a bachelor’s and/or graduate degree. These results are similar to national survey results of people interesting in buying EVs. 

What do people already know about EVs?
More than a third of people surveyed were aware of the $7,500 federal tax credit for EV purchase. A little more than 20 percent of respondents were aware of emissions exemptions available from the State of Ohio for EV owners (although the exemption is not offered in central Ohio).  

Forty-two percent of people surveyed were aware of one of more public charging station locations. Two-thirds of respondents knew that charging times average between three to six, or five to nine hours. 

Misconceptions about EVs
Misunderstandings about EVs were prevalent, even among early adopters, the survey found. For example, 60 percent of respondents underestimated the fuel savings of an EV. Sixty percent also overestimated vehicle range. 

Two-thirds of survey respondents think that maintenance costs are the same or higher with EVs compared to fuel-powered vehicles. Overall, the survey found that respondents had limited brand knowledge of the names of EVs and companies that produce them.

Barriers to EV purchase
Most people surveyed expressed concern about the availability of chargers (70 percent) and had “range anxiety,” or a fear that the vehicle will run out of power before making it to a charger or destination (66 percent). More than half (55 percent) of people surveyed say charge time is a barrier to EV purchase, while 46 percent reported concerns about battery reliability. 

What motivates people to buy EVs?
A third of survey respondents said they were extremely likely to purchase an EV. Among those likely to buy an EV, 52 percent rode in or drove an EV before. Almost half (46 percent) of respondents felt confident in their ability to evaluate various EV technologies. 

In the survey, respondents also had the opportunity to rate traits associated with driving an EV, on a scale from one to seven. Caring for the environment received the highest score (5.2), followed by environmentalist (4.9), socially responsible (4.7) and doing the right thing (4.6).

Read the full survey results in the accompanying report.


Sign up here to stay up-to-date on the latest from Smart Columbus.