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J.D. Power Study: For Potential Electric Vehicle Buyers, Public Charging is Critical

J.D. Power Study: For Potential Electric Vehicle Buyers, Public Charging is Critical

EV experts disagree about how much and what kinds of public charging will be needed in the electric future. However, there’s absolutely no doubt about one thing: for potential EV buyers, the availability of public charging is the big banana in the bunch.

Market analysis firm J.D. Power publishes a suite of EV-related studies each year. The 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study is designed to gauge the level of interest in EVs among car buyers, including reasons why consumers choose to buy or not to buy an EV. This year’s study measures responses from 8,136 consumers surveyed between February and May 2023.

New-vehicle buyer consideration of EVs is increasing, albeit slowly, J.D. Power found. This year’s study reveals that 26% of shoppers say they are “very likely” to consider purchasing an EV, up from 24% a year ago, while the percentage of shoppers who say they are “overall likely” to purchase an EV increased to 61% from 59% in 2022.

J.D. Power believes the modest year-over-year increases are down to a complex mixture of positive and negative factors: lower gas prices, inflation, and more availability of EV models and public charging. Some 42% of the study’s respondents now say that there’s an EV model that meets their needs.

“With all of these influences shaping today’s EV market, the biggest friction point for consideration is the availability of public chargers,” said Stewart Stropp, Executive Director of EV intelligence at J.D. Power. “The growth in public charging isn’t keeping pace with the rising number of EVs on the road. A resounding effort to build out and improve the public charging infrastructure will emphatically increase EV purchase consideration.”

A large number (49%) of J.D. Power’s respondents who said they wouldn’t buy an EV cited a lack of charging infrastructure as the main reason, and this has been the case since the inception of the study in 2021. Across all of J.D. Power’s EV studies, public charging consistently scores low on satisfaction.

As many have noted, public charging is a much bigger issue for potential EV buyers than for actual EV owners. “Most EV owners will say charging is one of the greatest benefits of ownership, because 85% of it is done at home,” Stropp said. “But it’s the exceptional use case—like a vacation road trip—that’s holding shoppers back.”

Of course, automakers who want to sell more EVs need to appeal to potential buyers’ perceptions—justified or not—and that’s what’s driving the rush to join Tesla’s Supercharger network. “Proactively taking ownership of the public charging experience is a huge opportunity for automakers to differentiate,” Stropp said. “The recent announcements by Ford and GM to establish a charging collaboration with Tesla are particularly noteworthy.”

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