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Electric vehicles get mixed reception from U.S. consumers

Many are on the fence about whether they would purchase the chief alternative to ICE vehicles — an electric car or truck

Washington D.C.—Americans are closely divided over the idea of phasing out combustion-engine vehicles by the year 2035, and many are on the fence about whether they would purchase a chief alternative — an electric car or truck.

A recent Pew Research Center report finds 47 percent of U.S. adults support a proposal to phase out production of gasoline-powered cars and trucks, while 51 percent oppose it.

About four-in-10 Americans (39 percent) say that the next time they purchase a vehicle, they are at least somewhat likely to seriously consider electric, while 46 percent say they are not too or at all likely to do so. Another 14 percent are not expecting to purchase a car or truck in the future.

Just 7 percent of U.S. adults say they currently own an electric or hybrid vehicle. Most of these owners (72 percent) say they are very (43 percent) or somewhat (29 percent) likely to seriously consider an electric car or truck the next time around.

But the three-in-10 Americans who describe themselves as knowing a lot about electric vehicles are more divided about their openness to going the electric vehicle route: 53 percent of this group are at least somewhat likely to consider an EV purchase in the future, while 39 percent say they are not too or at all likely to do so.

Sales of electric vehicles have been slow to take off in the United States, but automakers are investing heavily in the technology, with Ford Motor Co., General Motors and others expecting the global market for electric vehicles to grow.

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are more open to considering the purchase of an electric vehicle, particularly in comparison with Baby Boomer and older adults. Similarly, other findings in the same survey showed that younger generations are more receptive to the idea of phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles.

Majorities of Gen Z (56 percent) and Millennial (57 percent) adults favor phasing out production of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, compared with lower shares of Gen X (45 percent) and Baby Boomer and older (38 percent) Americans.

The public’s views on electric vehicles at this stage appears clear on two counts. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say that electric cars and trucks are better for the environment compared with gas-powered vehicles. But a similar share (66 percent) also sees electric vehicles as hitting a higher price point.

About twice as many Americans consider electric vehicles lacking compared with their gas-powered counterparts when it comes to reliability (34 percent vs. 15% percent), but about half of the public (49 percent) sees little difference between them.

When it comes to the emotionally driven reactions to driving an electric vehicle, a majority call it a toss-up: 62 percent say the driving experience is about the same between gas- and electric-powered vehicles, while 13 percent call electric vehicles more fun to drive and 21 percent give the fun edge to gas-powered vehicles.

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