Reasons for wanting an electric car (courtesy image)

A new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with more than 30 million Americans indicating they are likely to buy an electric vehicle as their next car. With rising sales, longer mileage capacity and lower costs, AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.
 
“With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering. “Tesla – a standout in AAA’s evaluations – has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.”
 
Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40% lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. “In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15% are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car purchase,” said James Spires, Regional Manager, AAA Car Care Centers. “Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.”
 
Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential factors. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one-third (32%) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.
 
Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70% rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%). 
 
With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide. Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.
 
“While consumer interest for green vehicles is strong, making the jump to an electric, hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles can be intimidating to car shoppers,” said John B. Townsend II, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “AAA’s thorough evaluations help take the guesswork out, by providing an unbiased assessment of these vehicles based on more than a dozen individual criteria.” 
 
In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:
Category
Winner
Overall
Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car
Chevy Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car
Volkswagen e-Golf SE
Midsize Car
Lexus GS 450h F Sport
Large Car
Tesla Model S 60
Pickup
Ford F150 XLT Super Crew
SUV
Tesla Model X 75D
 
While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” – the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.
 
“Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner,” continued Brannon. “While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.”
 
To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States. Maryland ranks ninth in the nation with the total number of charging stations at 437, Virginia ranks 15th with 361 and Washington, D.C. has 94.
 
As of 2014, there were 77,754 hybrids and 3,178 electric plug-in vehicles in Maryland, according to the 2014 Motor Vehicle Administration’s Annual Report. Last September, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration announced that allotted funds for the Excise Tax Credit for plug-in electric vehicles for fiscal year 2017 were depleted and the program was ended.
 
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