Car shoppers know electric-cars are good for the environment, but relatively few would consider buying one, according to results released Tuesday by J.D. Power and Associates.
In its first-ever Mobility Confidence Index, 61 percent of respondents told the automotive polling juggernaut that they agree that electric cars are better for the environment, but only 39 percent said they would consider buying one.
That's still significantly higher than the 20 percent that AAA cited last year.
As with another study conducted by Volvo in February, one of the biggest obstacles consumers listed was the availability of charging stations. In the J.D. Power survey, 64 percent of respondents named the availability of charging stations as a disadvantage to electric cars, higher than the number who named driving range, at 59 percent, or purchase price, at 54 percent. Just over half of respondents listed charging time as an obstacle, and 27 percent said they couldn't charge at home.
Altogether, 58 percent expressed concerns about the effects of EV ownership on their lifestyle.
Still, the news wasn't all bad: 48 percent of respondents recognized that charging costs less than gas; 36 percent named the convenience of home charging as an advantage, and 30 percent noted that electric cars are cheaper and easier to maintain. Only 49 percent said they thought an EV would be more reliable than a gas-powered vehicle.
Only 32 percent of respondents said they had ever sat in an electric car. Among those that had no experience with an electric car, only 40 percent said they would consider buying one. Of those who have experienced an electric car, 75 percent said they would buy another one. A lower cost of entry would help: 78 percent said more tax credits would improve the likelihood that they would buy an EV.
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If J.D. Power respondents weren't very optimistic about electric cars, they are even less so about self-driving cars. The company created an overall Confidence Index for each new type of cars. For EVs it averaged 55 percent; for self-driving, or autonomous, cars, it was just 39.
Among consumers' biggest concerns about self-driving cars were technological failures, cited by 71 percent of respondents and the possibility of their cars being hacked, cited by 57 percent. That's understandable when technological failures, resulting from hacking or otherwise, can lead to crashes. 22 percent were concerned about learning to operate it.
Nearly half (48 percent) expressed concern over giving up control. Another 33 percent put a slightly different twist on it, saying they don't want to give up the fun of driving.
Consumer Reports Tesla Model 3 Navigate on Autopilot prepares to pass on left [CREDIT: CR]
Americans disagree on whether self-driving cars will reduce or increase traffic congestion: 23 percent said it would be less, while 17 percent said traffic would get worse. A few respondents listed better fuel-efficiency as an advantage, while no one thought it would get worse.
Only 45 percent of consumers said they would be at least "somewhat likely," to purchase a self-driving car in the future. And 23 percent saw no advantage at all from self-driving cars.
J.D. Power surveyed 5,270 Americans about electric cars and 5,749 about self-driving cars using Survey Monkey, The organization also polled experts about self-driving cars. While consumers said they expect self-driving cars to arrive in 8 to 9 years, the expert panel saw self-driving ride-sharing services arriving much sooner, in a little over 5 years, while self-driving cars for retail purchasers will take more than 12 years to arrive, they said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that he plans to make all the company's cars able to drive themselves in the next year, so that owners can rent them out as autonomous robo-taxis for profit using a new Tesla Network. General Motor's rival service, Cruise Automation, just announced that it is postponing its planned commercial self-driving taxi service, which was scheduled to launch later this year.