Study: Just 38% Prefer a Gas-Powered Car

If all cars had the same prices and features, more Americans would still choose a gas-powered car than a hybrid or an electric vehicle (EV). But none of the three earn a majority of votes, and hybrids have nearly caught up, according to a new study.

KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting companies, is out with its latest American Perspectives Survey. The survey asks 1,100 adults about their attitudes toward everything from artificial intelligence to their own financial futures.

When it comes to cars, the survey finds, Americans are now almost evenly split between gas-powered cars and hybrids. Electric vehicles (EVs) are still a distant third but are gaining in appeal.

Researchers asked, “If an electric vehicle, standard gas-powered vehicle, and hybrid all cost the same amount and have the same features, which type of vehicle would you prefer to purchase?”

Thirty-eight percent went with what they knew, selecting a gas-powered car. Thirty-four percent picked a hybrid. Twenty-one percent would prefer an EV. Five percent said they were not sure, and 3% expressed no preference.

The question is a little misleading. Gas-powered cars, hybrids, and EVs are not similarly priced. The average new car sold for $48,510 in April, while the average EV sold for $55,252. EV prices are down 8.5% from a year ago. However, surveys show that higher prices are one of three major hurdles to EV adoption, along with concerns about range and charging infrastructure.

Drivers and automakers have different expectations of charging infrastructure. KPMG found that 60% of Americans want an EV that can charge 80% of its battery in 20 minutes or less, while auto industry executives think 41% want that.

Many Americans are, instead, embracing hybrids as a bridge to a future EV era. EV sales are growing slowly but steadily so far in 2024, while hybrid sales have spiked. Registrations of new hybrids rose almost 50% in the first quarter of the year.

The same may not be true in a decade. A recent study by Kelley Blue Book parent Cox Automotive found that most people who wouldn’t buy an EV today said they’d consider it in three to five years. Even those more skeptical often said they’d consider an EV in 10 years.

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