EV buyers want SUVs and sedans, not minivans or trucks, survey says

EV buyers want SUVs and sedans, not minivans or trucks, survey says

Enlarge / Edmunds surveyed 300 car buyers who were considering a new EV in January 2024.

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There is a significant mismatch between the people who want to buy electric vehicles and the people who want to sell them. That’s according to data from a new survey by Edmunds, which polled people shopping for new cars in January. These prospective buyers want affordable sedans and SUVs, segments of the market that are being ignored by automakers. Instead, they’re being offered expensive EVs, including plenty of trucks, for which there is little demand.

Almost half (47 percent) of the 300 people surveyed said they want to spend less than $40,000 on a new EV. And just over 1 in 5 (22 percent) said that they don’t want to pay more than $30,000. But currently, no new EV is on sale below this price, and only a handful of EVs (Mini Cooper SE, Fiat 500e, Hyundai Kona Electric, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3) are on sale for less than $40,000.

According to Edmunds’ data, the average transaction price of a new EV was $61,702 in 2023, compared to $47,450 for other vehicles.

When it comes to body styles, and despite what you might read in the comments to automotive articles at Ars, SUVs are as popular as sedans with potential buyers; 43 percent said they want a sedan (or wagon), and 42 percent want an SUV. Edmunds’ data does not make a minivan boom seem any more likely—appeal for minivans was minuscule, at just 5 percent.

Things don’t look great for the electric pickup truck, either. The Detroit-based automakers have had high hopes for the electrified versions of their biggest cash cows, but Ford’s F-150 Lightning (the first to reach market) has sat on lots as dealers stocked up on fully loaded models that are often double the price of the $40,000 model that Ford spent so much time telling us about.

Just 10 percent of Edmunds’ survey respondents said they were shopping for an electric pickup. Ironically, this probably spells good news for the automakers, Edmunds says—truck buyers will keep buying gasoline- and diesel-powered pickups, which contribute greatly to automaker profits.

The survey shows that car buyers looking for EVs are, on the whole, not well-informed. Twelve percent said they trust Toyota best when it comes to EVs, despite the fact that the Japanese automaker is years behind its rivals and has but a single, somewhat mediocre EV on sale today in 2024. Another 8 percent named Honda, which similarly is lagging the industry in terms of electrification.

Tesla scored top (23 percent), followed by BMW (13 percent)—both companies with extensive experience in electrifying automobiles. Ford and Chevrolet shared fifth place (7 percent), but neither Kia nor Hyundai were namechecked, despite offering a range of EVs, most of which are best in class.

Edmunds also found a pretty wide spread when it asked car buyers how much range they needed. Just fewer than 1 in 4 (24 percent) said they’d be happy with 99 miles (160 km) or less. Another 22 percent said between 100–199 miles (160–320 km) was fine, with 17 percent indicating that 200–299 miles (320–481 km) was the sweet spot. Most EVs on sale today fall into this range bracket.

But a significant number of potential EV buyers indicated a desire for much more range. Nineteen percent wanted 300–399 miles (482–642 km)—the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Tesla Model 3, Mercedes-Benz EQS, BMW i4 and i7, and the Polestar 2 all fit this bill.

Another 8 percent wanted 400–499 miles (642–804 km) of range in their new EV, which limits them to the Tesla Model S, which has a claimed range of 405 miles (651 km). The 5 percent of survey recipients who claimed a desired range of 500–599 miles (805-964 km) at least have the Lucid Air as an option; no EV exists that can satisfy the 4 percent who demand more than 600 miles (964 km) of range.

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