Interest in purchasing an EV is high among communities of color, which are also more burdened by air pollution than white communities. Yet significant barriers exist to greater EV adoption, according to a new study from Consumer Reports, EVNoire, GreenLatinos, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Communities of color are most harmed by vehicle-generated air pollution, but currently purchase and lease EVs at disproportionately low rates, the study's authors noted, citing 2018 research. It's not due to lack of interest in EVs, but rather issues that tend to affect people of color more than white people, according to the study, which is based on a national survey of 8,027 United States adults conducted by Consumer Reports between January 27, 2022 and February 18, 2022.
That survey showed broad interest in EVs. Of those surveyed, 33% of white respondents, 38% of Black respondents, 43% of Latino respondents, and 52% of Asian American respondents said they would "definitely" or seriously consider" purchasing or leasing an EV for their next vehicle.
2023 Volkswagen ID.4
However, the study highlighted several issues that might limit EV adoption in communities of color. Home charging is currently the most affordable way to charge an EV, but it's not always possible for renters and residents of multi-family dwellings, Consumer Reports noted. The study recommends specifically boosting charging accessibility for these living situations, as well as increased affordable public charging.
Incentive programs accessible to all consumers are another important component to equitable EV adoption, the study said.
That isn't off to a great start. The federal EV tax credit, which was recently re-upped, requires a certain amount of tax liability in able to claim the benefits. Meanwhile, because of the way it was just restructured, EV leases have become more expensive. The revamped EV tax credit does at least include a $4,000 credit on used EVs up to $25,000.
California has also considered refocusing it incentives toward "gasoline superusers"—although that doesn't necessarily align with low-income families or communities of color.
2023 Nissan Leaf
The study also calls for increased education efforts, including loaner, test drive, or car sharing programs that let people experience EVs. Across racial groups, experience with an EV "strongly correlated" with interest in purchasing or leasing one, according to Consumer Reports. And a larger percentage of Black (13%) and Latino (10%) respondents than white (5%) and Asian American (2%) respondents said they didn't know enough about EVs to purchase or lease one.
As has been covered for EVs, and for trucks and buses specifically, air quality issues disproportionately affect communities of color, and it's likely they will benefit in quality of life from greater rates of EV adoption.