Consumer Reports survey shows 'leap' in EV buying, leasing interest

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Americans are becoming more interested in getting an all-electric vehicle but many don't know about the incentives to help them purchase a battery-powered car or truck, according to a study by Consumer Reports.

The survey of 8,027 U.S. consumers conducted in January and February found 71% of respondents expressed interest in buying or leasing an EV. Of that group, 14% said they would "definitely" buy or lease one, 22% would "seriously consider" one, and 35% "might" consider one. In a 2020 Consumer Reports survey on EV adoption, just 4% of respondents said they would "definitely" buy or lease an EV. 

The 2023 Bolt EV starts at $26,595, including dealer freight charges, down from the 2022 Bolt EV's starting price of $32,495.

"That's a huge leap in just two years," said Mary Greene, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, a nonprofit product and service research, testing and advocacy organization. 

Automakers are spending billions to transition their fleets away from carbon-producing products, but to be successful they are also working to lower EV costs and expand the charging network. 

The survey found that nearly half of respondents were unaware of the incentives available to purchase an EV and more than half said tax rebates or discounts would encourage them to go electric.  The federal government offers $7,500 in tax credits for EV buyers but some automakers, including General Motors Co. and Tesla Inc., have maxed out their credit allotment. Some states and energy providers offer EV rebates, too. 

"We need to see policymakers continue offering these incentives, so we would love to see if federally these incentives were extended," Greene said. "We know that some companies have hit their limit."

The lower cost to refuel an EV versus an internal combustion car and the lower lifetime and maintenance costs were the main reasons respondents would consider switching to an EV.

For the respondents who said they “definitely” would buy or lease an EV, they listed charging logistics, the number of miles a vehicle gets on a charge and the costs involved with buying, owning and maintaining an EV as the top three barriers to adoption. 

Amid rising commodity costs, GM upped the price on its GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV by $6,250 starting June 18. The base price for the Hummer EV 3X coming this fall will go from $98,400 to $104,650. The Hummer EV 2X available next spring will be $94,650, up from $88,400. And coming spring 2024, the Hummer EV2 will be $84,650, up from $78,400. 

Cadillac's Lyriq EV went up $3,000 when the brand opened the order bank for options outside of the debut edition, which started at $59,990.

But GM did lower the price of its Chevrolet Bolt products below $30,000 before the electric Chevrolet Equinox, priced around $30,000, hits the market. The Equinox will be revealed this year and go on sale in 2023. 

On the charging infrastructure front, President Joe Biden's administration plans to roll out 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations nationally by 2030. Automakers are also investing in charging stations.

"We'd also love to see automakers working on putting out models that are more affordable," Greene said. "We are certainly really excited to see that there are increasingly more affordable models on the market ... there is a demand for these cars."