With a flood of electric cars about to enter the market and tax credits beginning to expire for some established brands the question of how much buyers are willing to spend for an electric car seems worth revisiting.
Since the $35,000 Model 3 hasn't yet materialized, Teslas start at about $50,000 and up—and they make up more than half of all electric cars sold.
This trend led us to wonder if electric cars are likely to work like other new technologies, starting with expensive luxury products and working their way down to a more affordable mass market rather than expanding from a more affordable base.
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Other luxury electric cars are on the way from Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, in addition to potentially half a dozen startup electric automakers. The first of these, the Jaguar I-Pace, will start at almost $70,000.
New models from mainstream automakers such as Ford won't target budget buyers either.
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Even more basic electric cars aren't that cheap. For buyers who want more than 200 miles of range, even the base Chevy Bolt EV costs $37,495 before rebates and incentives. And GM's tax credit is set to wind down next year too. The Nissan Leaf costs almost $31,000.
To get a sense whether our readers agree with the idea of electrics as luxury cars, our Twitter poll last week asked: "How much would you spend on an electric car?"
Only a quarter of our respondents would go straight for the Tesla or another luxury model and spend more than $45,000.
How much would you spend on an electric car?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) August 20, 2018
About another fifth (19 percent) didn't want to spend that much, but would pay for maximum range in a more basic car such as the Bolt EV, spending $35,000 to $45,000. Or maybe they're holding out for the $35,000 Tesla Model 3.
The largest portion of our Twitter followers, 35 percent, hoped to spend between $25,000 and $35,000, about what it would cost to buy a basic electric car today after deducting the $7,500 federal tax incentive.
As long as the Chevy Bolt EV is eligible for the incentive, its buyers can fit into this price range, too. Next year, as the incentive winds down, they may have to raise their budget, buy a shorter-range car, or hope the new 2019 Nissan Leaf e-Plus falls under $35,000 after tax credits.
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Only 21 percent of our respondents said they were looking to spend less than $25,000, which could get them a Nissan Leaf or another shorter-range electric car if they buy a base model or if they live in a state that has a large tax credit on top of the federal credit or are eligible for other incentives. Otherwise, plenty of used electrics are starting to trickle into the market that are more affordable.
The bottom line is that 75 percent of our readers are looking for more affordable electric cars, not more expensive ones.
As always, remember that our Twitter polls are unscientific because of our low sample size and because our respondents are self-selected.