Driving range, not cost, is the top concern for buyers

22 September 2021

AURORA, Ill., (September 20, 2021) –   Last week, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation creating a $4,000 rebate for residents who buy an electric vehicle, with the goal of having 1 million EVs on the road by 2030. This is sure to pique the interest of many prospective car buyers, and AAA is ready with resources and research to help consumers determine if an EV fits their budget and driving patterns.

According to a 2019 AAA study, electric vehicles are only slightly more expensive—$590/year more—to own than comparable gas-powered vehicle over 5 years and 75,000 miles of driving. The higher initial purchase price is responsible for this difference, as maintenance and repair tend to be lower for electric vehicles since they do not require services like oil changes or air filter replacements. If maintained according to the automakers’ recommendations, electric vehicles cost $330 less per year to maintain than a gas-powered car.

But cost is not the primary reason most Americans shy away from electric vehicles. According to AAA surveys, “range anxiety” is the top concern, with more hesitant consumers citing lack of charging infrastructure (58%) and the fear that they will run out of charge while driving (57%) than purchase cost (51%). However, responses from EV’s owners suggest those concerns may be overblown, and confidence grows with experience.

“95% of electric vehicle owners surveyed say they never run out of a charge while driving, and they do 75% of their charging at home,” said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Likely as a result, the 77% of those who were originally concerned about insufficient range say they became less or no longer concerned after purchasing the vehicle.”

One factor that drivers should be mindful of when looking at driving range estimates: the impact of using the HVAC system to heat or cool the car in extreme temperatures.  When the temperature outside dips below 20°F, using the heater reduces the average range by 41 percent. Conversely, when outside temps reach 95°F, using the air conditioner decreases driving range by 17%.

Vehicle ownership, whether electric or gas-powered, is a personal choice that should take many factors into consideration. AAA encourages consumers who are interested in electric vehicles to start their research at aaa.com/carguide before visiting a dealership for a test drive, and should ask as many questions as possible to make an informed decision.

A full breakdown of AAA’s ownership cost analysis and consumer sentiment survey can be downloaded here.

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