Record-high gasoline prices are good for someone: makers of electric vehicles.
Almost half of U.S. adults say they're likely to buy an electric car or light truck as their next personal vehicle, an inclination that rises to more than two-thirds among men younger than 45, according to a survey by the Harris Poll. Among that overall group of interested buyers, 86 percent say fuel prices are influencing their decision.
With analysts predicting further pump price increases in the months ahead, it wouldn't be surprising to find even more drivers considering an EV.
The sway of fuel costs is completely understandable. The national average price of gasoline was up 44 percent from a year earlier to $4.19 a gallon — and more than $4.50 a gallon in nine states — when we conducted our national poll at the end of April. As of mid-May, the national average was even higher — $4.48 — according to AAA.
Even before fuel prices zoomed higher, EV registrations rose 60 percent in the first quarter to 158,689 and took a record 4.6 percent share of the U.S. light-vehicle market, according to Experian. Tesla Inc. had four models in the EV top 10, followed by Hyundai-Kia with three vehicles combined. Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen rounded out the group.
Still, there's plenty of room for more growth.
When we surveyed American adults about electric vehicles a year ago, we found that 4 in 10 were ready to buy an EV as their primary or secondary vehicle. The percentage topped 50 percent in 2021 among those in households that had incomes of $100,000 and up, college degrees and/or children.
Asked a slightly different question in our new poll of 1,094 representative adults, 46 percent said they're very or somewhat likely to buy an EV as their next vehicle.
The groups most interested in EVs are men 17 to 34 years old (72 percent) or 35 to 44 years old (66 percent), as well as adults with children at home (62 percent), living in the West (58 percent), in $100,000-plus households (52 percent) and those with college degrees (52 percent again).
The least likely group to buy were women 65 and older; 25 percent said they'd consider an EV, with just 3 percent calling themselves a very likely buyer.
Interestingly, while the penchant for EVs varies significantly by demographic groups, the degree to which fuel prices affects their buying plans is constant at around 86 percent by gender, income, education, family structure, race/ethnicity and region.