Shoppers willing to pay more for electric cars, survey finds


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars outside dealership    [photo: Patrick Reid]

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars outside dealership [photo: Patrick Reid]

Electric and alternative-fuel cars aren't just for early-adopting geeks anymore. 

A new survey by InnovateMR about Americans' car-shopping practices found that two thirds would buy an alternative-fuel car even if it cost more. These days, the most prevalent alternative energy cars are electric.

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The proportion among younger consumers and those with higher education levels was even higher. Almost three-quarters of men (73 percent) said they would consider a vehicle powered by alternative energy despite a higher cost. Even among women 60 percent said they would do so.

"Consumers are hungry for new technology and powertrain alternatives,” said chief researcher Lisa Wilding-Brown, noting that “growth trends are accelerating in certain regions of the U.S.”

Age also plays a role: The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to agree that they would be willing to pay more for an electric car. Among the youngest demographic, 18 to 34 year-olds, 80 percent said they would prefer to buy an alternative fuel vehicle. Consumers up to 54 years old would still prefer an electric car by 70 percent, even if they had to pay more, according to the study. Almost half of older consumers, 48 percent, said the same.

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Slightly more of those with only a high-school education than older consumers would pay more for an electric car: 49 percent. For those with a bachelor's or associate's degree, the number rose to 71 percent, and to 85 percent of those with a graduate degree.

What researchers did not study was how much extra car buyers might be willing to pay for alternative fuels. 

So far, electric cars are still more expensive than equivalent conventional models, but the price disparity is coming down as batteries get cheaper. 

 
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