Handing over car keys
Seven years after the first mass-priced modern electric car was sold in the U.S., more car buyers than ever are at least dimly aware that such vehicles exist.
Sales of cars that plug in have risen every year, with one slight dip in 2015, but they were still just 1 percent of the U.S. market of 17.5 million light vehicles last year.
One reason for that is that most owners only replace a vehicle every five years or so.
The average car on U.S. roads is still more than a decade old, but most car buyers are naturally conservative, not wanting to dive into risky new technology for the second most-expensive item they buy in their lives.
In other words, like hybrids, it may take a slow, steady increase in the numbers of plug-in cars out there—and patient owners who explain them, demystify them, and offer rides or drives—to "normalize" what are still pretty exotic beasts.
That's even setting aside the numerous problems that continue to exist in many franchised dealerships across the country: uneducated salespeople, demonstrator cars that haven't been recharged, and the inevitable push toward deals on slow-selling gasoline models.
What will your next new car be?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) January 8, 2018
We were curious to see whether this site's Twitter followers were planning to put their money where their interests lie.
Our poll this week simply asks what kind of powertrain will be in the next vehicle our survey respondents purchase.
The first and default choice is a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.
It may come with a start-stop system these days, and it'll have a more aerodynamic design, likely a smaller engine and more transmission gears than the one it replaces, but it'll still have some number of cylinders that house thousands of tiny explosions of hydrocarbon fuel to propel it.
The next choice is a hybrid-electric vehicle, one that may run short distances solely on electricity harvested from what otherwise would be wasted energy.
Widely seen as a technology that would make cars with engines vastly more efficient, only Toyota and Honda have taken up hybrids in any kind of major way, and their market share is static at best globally and falling in the U.S.
A Honda dealership in Erie, Penn.
Next are plug-in hybrids, which have some amount of electric range—from 9 to 73 miles—provided solely by battery packs that plug into the grid to recharge, and a gasoline engine for longer trips or higher power demands.
The final choice is a battery-electric vehicle, of which several hundred thousand have now been sold in the U.S., which has no engine and a large battery pack that is the sole energy source for the electric motor that powers the car alone.
We're curious to see what mix of vehicles our Twitter followers say they plan to buy—though of course we have no way of determining if those intentions are actually translated into actual vehicles when it comes time to sign on the line.
As always, please note that our Twitter polls are far from scientifically valid, due to small sample size and self-selection by those who choose to participate.