No. 1018
October 16, 2019

About The Autoextremist

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Last week's column - "The Biggest Bet in Automotive History" - stirred up a lot of reactions, both positive and negative. The ongoing rush to electrification by the automotive industry is fraught with challenges and opportunities. Some players are making clear bets on The Future of mobility being electric, while others are hedging their bets. I clearly stated my position last week, and ironically it's perfect timing then to introduce what I think is the most comprehensive consumer research study on EVs to date, entitled, "CONSUMER VIEWS ABOUT ELECTRIC VEHICLES 2019 – ALL THIS TORQUE AND STILL STUCK IN NEUTRAL." This study was conducted by AutoThink Research. The diverse, mobility savvy readership of makes up a large part of the survey sampleThe best endorsement I can give to this new study is that its findings are not in lockstep with what I wrote last week, and in fact there are clear differences in its findings from my personal perspectives on the subject. To wit:
  • The biggest misperception identified by thsurvey is the widespread belief that EVs and the charging infrastructure are not ready for prime time. The experience of current EV owners refutes that.
  • Most of the people who think EVs aren't ready for prime time have exaggerated worries about EV battery capacity, driving range, charging speed, and public charging infrastructure.
As the study explains in the introduction, “The global transition from ICE vehicles to EVs has been assisted by improvements on a variety of fronts (e.g., the technology, management, production, and cost of batteries, vehicle charging speeds and infrastructure). Despite this progress, actual consumer demand for these vehicles is lagging and growing very slowly (especially in the U.S.). Many consumers appear to lack a basic understanding about how these various alternative propulsion vehicles differ (e.g., what’s the difference between hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, extended-range electric vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles?). In addition, a variety of controversies and conflicting claims have emerged in the discussion of ICE and EV vehicles, and these have further promoted confusion and erroneous beliefs about EVs. Most research on consumer attitudes toward EVs has failed to take the confusion into account or to identify the effects of these confusions and erroneous beliefs on EV consideration.” 

At the end of the report, there are seven recommendations (aimed at the auto industry) that are quite thought-provoking and provide a roadmap for gaining electric vehicle acceptance:
  • Continue organizing and coordinating the independent public charging networks to maximize their use and usefulness.
  • Automotive journalists and other EV commentators give too much attention and importance to the topic of public charging infrastructure and public charging stations. It’s a much smaller deal affecting fewer people and more infrequently than it has been made out to be.
  • Let’s fix how alternative propulsion vehicles are categorized and stop lumping extended-range electric vehicles (like Volt and BMW i3REx) in with plug-in hybrids (like Prius Prime and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid).
  • Offer extended-range versions of EVs. Stop developing and offering Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids, which are only prolonging the use of the internal combustion engine.
  • Stop putting promotional emphasis on the “environmentalism” of EVs. The survey suggests that the environment is not the big driver of EV consideration that everyone thinks it is. It's an unnecessarily politicized side argument that isn't really needed to promote EV consideration among consumers.
  • Promote EVs for their many practical, convenient, and fun advantages.
  • The public needs a better understanding of electric vehicles. The automotive industry needs to take greater responsibility for educating the public about EVs and the future of transportation but first, the auto industry needs to better educate itself.
Other points worth noting? The report asserts that a lack of understanding about automotive propulsion systems and erroneous beliefs about EVs are unnecessarily impeding the adoption of EVs. The actual EV ownership experience is more positive than non-EV owners are imagining. EVs are better – much less restricted and limited, with much less “hassle” – than most people are thinking. 

Furthermore, the report suggests that EVs and the existing charging infrastructure are ready for long-distance trips (that's what the survey's EV owners report and what the study found when it looked at current charging infrastructure). The EV report also questions the idea that EVs need to be relegated to a second-car position. Forty-four of the 341 EV owners surveyed (13%) are getting by with an EV as their only vehicle.

There is one conclusion in this EV Report that perfectly lines up with my final point in my column last week when I had this to say about the future of electrification: "It’s also the biggest marketing challenge in automotive history as well, because creating demand on a massive scale for vehicles that people don’t even know that they want will be a monumental task."

Many of our readers participated in this groundbreaking study, so I would encourage you to download the report – caution: it's lengthy  and take your time to go through it. It's worth the read. 

And that’s The High-Octane Truth for this week.

Download the 284-page report hereor go here to get a quick one-page summary and table of contents.