Close to 90% of respondents interested in purchasing an EV expect to buy one in the next five years (figure 1). To help you strengthen your EV strategies and support EV adoption in your territory, we compiled key findings from the 2020 E Source Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey. The study focused on five topics:

  • Customers’ interest in all-electric vehicles
  • Influences on customers’ EV purchase
  • Customers’ barriers to EV purchase
  • EV owners’ charging habits
  • EV owners’ driving habits

Figure 1: When customers expect to purchase an EV

This graph shows the cumulative number of respondents who expect to buy or lease an EV within the given timeframe. For example, the 46% of respondents that indicated they would buy or lease an EV within two years includes the 22% of respondents who said they would buy or lease an EV within one year. Our survey results show that 96% of respondents who are interested in getting an EV will do so by 2030.
This graph shows when respondents said they expect to buy or lease an EV. This data includes 4,399 respondents from the US and Canada who said they were interested in purchasing or leasing an all-electric vehicle. Twenty-two percent said they expected to buy or lease one within 1 year; 46% said they expect to within 2 years; 63% said they expect to within 3 years; 72% said they expect to within 4 years; 87% said they expect to within 5 years; and 96% said they expect to within 10 years. The source or this data is the E Source 2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey.

Alleviating customers’ concerns about EVs

Potential EV customers still have many barriers to purchasing an EV (figure 2). To alleviate customers’ concerns, offer EV technologies and programs to meet your customers’ needs.

Figure 2: Top barriers to purchasing an all-electric vehicle

Over one-third of respondents who don’t already own an EV are most concerned with the cost to purchase an EV and have range anxiety.
This graph shows what respondents said are the primary reasons preventing them from purchasing or leasing an all-electric vehicle. They could select multiple responses. There were 3,965 respondents who were considering an all-electric vehicle and 3,066 respondents not considering an all-electric vehicle. Of the respondents who are considering an all-electric vehicle, 40% said the cost of an all-electric vehicle was higher than they would like to spend; 35% said they're worried the car will run out of charge before reaching their destination; 24% said the technology is rapidly changing and they don't want to purchase a car that will be outdated; 24% said the cost of maintenance and upkeep will be too high; 23% said they aren't familiar enough with all-electric vehicles to buy one; 19% said they don't know where to charge an all-electric vehicle; 19% said there are no charging stations available in my area; 18% said they don't know how an all-electric vehicle will perform in their local weather conditions; and 16% said they don't know any mechanics that can service an all-electric vehicle. Of the respondents who aren't considering an all-electric vehicle, 35% said the cost of an all-electric vehicle was higher than they would like to spend; 39% said they're worried the car will run out of charge before reaching their destination; 14% said the technology is rapidly changing and they don't want to purchase a car that will be outdated; 23% said the cost of maintenance and upkeep will be too high; 32% said they aren't familiar enough with all-electric vehicles to buy one; 24% said they don't know where to charge an all-electric vehicle; 19% said there are no charging stations available in my area; 16% said they don't know how an all-electric vehicle will perform in their local weather conditions; and 17% said they don't know any mechanics that can service an all-electric vehicle. The source or this data is the E Source 2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey.

Our Technology Assessment Service can help you determine the EV products best suited for your service territory. For example, we found that customers who already own an EV are more likely to use Level 2 charging than Level 1. We can help you choose the right charging technologies and vendors to promote in your service territory. We can also help you target exact locations to install Level 2 charging stations. Contact us to learn more.

After determining the best technologies for your territory, our Distributed Energy Resource Strategy Service can help you design and implement EV programs.

Addressing cost concerns. Fifty-nine percent of respondents who are concerned about EV costs want information on the up-front and maintenance costs of an all-electric vehicle. Provide an online calculator or vehicle comparison chart to help customers understand the costs of owning or leasing an EV.

Educating customers about the technology. Consider hosting ride-and-drive events and offering rebate and education programs with local dealerships. These events and programs can help customers understand the technology.

Relieving range anxiety. To reduce customers’ worries about EVs running out of charge, you could expand your charging network to include multifamily buildings, parks, and grocery stores.

Creating a seamless customer experience

While EV adoption is in its early stages, focus on creating a great prepurchase experience and motivating customers to adopt EVs. Customer experience leaders at utilities should work closely with marketing and communications teams to raise awareness and encourage customers to buy EVs.

Because customers are looking online for information, your website is a key opportunity to deliver this information to them and position yourself as a trusted EV expert (figure 3). Find ways to personalize the website experience for customers and lead them to ride-and-drive events.

Figure 3: Top six ways potential EV buyers interact with EVs

Your customers are interacting with EVs with or without you. Respondents who are considering buying an EV are most likely to search online for information on EVs, so focus on your online presence.
Interactions with all-electric vehicles Percentage of respondents
Base: US and Canadian respondents who are considering purchasing or leasing an all-electric vehicle, n = 3,965. Question S1_18a: Please select all of the statements that apply to you and your interactions with all-electric vehicles. Select all that apply. © E Source (2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey)
Searched online for information about all-electric vehicles 46
Watched a commercial, ad, television program, or online video about all-electric vehicles 41
Talked a coworker, friend, or family member who has an all-electric vehicle 36
Read a book or news article about all-electric vehicles 34
Researched charging technologies for all-electric vehicles 29
Looked up the location of public chargers near me 27

To learn more about how to educate and encourage customers to purchase an EV, check out our Customer Experience Strategy Service.

How to find more research on EV technologies, programs, and customer experience efforts

Whether you’re just starting to develop EV initiatives or you want to improve your existing efforts, E Source is here to help. If you’re an E Source member and would like to see more examples of our EV research, visit our Electric vehicle resource center. If you aren’t an E Source member, contact us to learn more about our Technology Assessment Service, Distributed Energy Resource Strategy Service, and Customer Experience Strategy Service.

To learn more about our findings from the Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey, contact us.

Contributing Authors

Analyst, Market Research

As part of the market research team, Sarah Baker analyzes and synthesizes market research studies. Her areas of expertise include qualitative...