Business & Technology

Electric car owners returning to gas; Here is why

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Electric cars are taking huge steps into the future, thanks to the rapid advancements in technology and the emphasis on environmental protection. Numerous automakers around the globe have taken a pledge to electrify the majority of their vehicle lineup after encountering Tesla’s widespread success.

Aside from being cleaner, electric cars are also more powerful and quicker than your regular internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered car. They are easily the fastest cars on the planet so performance enthusiasts are switching over to all-electric vehicles (EVs) from their regular gasoline-powered sports cars. Simultaneously, cash-conscious families are also investing in EVs as they save a ton of cash by eliminating all the fuel expenses.

Despite the growing popularity of EVs due to their zero-emission rate and incredible efficiency, one in every five electric car owners still switch back to their old gas-powered cars. Why do people still prefer the grimy carbon-emitting internal combustion engines over the cleaner electric ones even after knowing all the advantages of electric cars?

A recent study has looked into this matter in detail. It revealed several reasons why 18 percent of electric car owners still revert back to gas-powered cars like the Toyota 86.

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What were the results of the study?

California is one of the richest regions in the United States with its tech-savvy districts and forward-minded climate policies. The state has been the hot trove for electric car adoption in the U.S. and has the largest market in the country for EVs. Surprisingly, there are still a vast number of people who still opt for a gasoline-powered car on their next purchase after spending time with a hybrid or electric car.

Scott Hardman and Gil Tal, a pair of researchers from the University of California Davis, decided to carry out research in this matter. The researchers surveyed about 4,160 households in the heart of California that owned any electric or hybrid vehicle between 2012 to 2018. About 1,840 households had already made a decision about their next vehicle.

The conclusion is that about 20 percent of plug-in hybrid owners and 18 percent of all-electric owners switch over to gasoline cars on their next car purchase. While the numbers were indeed very surprising, the reasons behind the owners switching back to gas were pretty much expected.

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What were the reasons behind EV owners converting to conventional gas cars?

Hardman and Tal claimed that the major reason behind the discontinuance of EVs is related to the unavailability of proper charging facilities for most households. Most EV owners didn’t have the convenience of a proper 240 V charging outlet at home. This has been the most obvious problem with owning an EV, an issue which the EV industry has been trying to address for a very long time.

Home charging is definitely the most convenient charging location for every EV owner, a factor that directly influences the sales of EVs. The convenience of charging at home is often unmatched, as it incurs fewer expenses and saves more of your time. Most single-family households can easily set up a home charging solution. On the other hand, households with low family income found it relatively expensive to get a level 2 charging setup at home.

Most owners who gave up on EVs were apartment or condo dwellers with very few vehicles. Most of these owners don’t have access to a parking spot with a charging setup. Hence, they have to resort to public charging stations to charge their EVs, which is often an inconvenient affair owing to their packed schedules.

Automakers are increasing the density of charging networks in urban areas to offer relief to such owners. Still, these factors really hamper the EV ownership experience for these young and independent buyers.

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What were the other findings in the study?

People opted for electric cars mainly because of their environmental benefits and the various tax rebates and incentives offered by the respective EV manufacturers. California is particularly encouraging people to buy electric cars, by offering clean vehicle rebates and enforcing a Zero Emission Vehicle mandate for car manufacturers. The state Governor passed another law in favor of electric cars, by banning the sales of all-new gasoline-powered cars starting from 2035.

All-electric EV owners also enjoy the convenience of sleeping on a full tank overnight, without finding the need to go to a charging station the next day. Unfortunately, people with no home charging setups cannot enjoy this privilege, which is driving many owners away from electric cars. Further, the study found that people were less loyal to plug-in hybrids compared to all-electric cars. Plug-in hybrid technology is only seen as a driving force for cars to help them transition to all-electric technology. Thus, car enthusiasts only see plug-in hybrid cars as a compromising alternative to electric cars.

Another interesting phenomenon was that women EV owners go back to their regular gas cars at a much higher rate than men. Similarly, access to public charging infrastructure wasn’t found to be a major factor influencing people to replace their EVs, according to Hardman. Instead, the brand of the vehicle served as a major factor impacting EV ownership decisions.

The researchers found no testament to the fact that newer models with longer ranges will sell better than the already established EV models. Take, for example, people who owned a Tesla were the least likely to revert back to gas-powered cars. On the other hand, Fiat 500e owners were more likely to go back to their old ways of relying on gas. Tesla’s reputation precedes many other gas-powered cars in a similar segment, hence Tesla owners were reluctant to switch over to gas ever again.

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