Nearly Half of US EV Drivers Consider Switching Back to Gas Vehicles: McKinsey Study
Nearly Half of US EV Drivers Consider Switching Back to Gas Vehicles: McKinsey Study

By Andrew Moran

More electric vehicle drivers are thinking about switching back to internal combustion engine automobiles, according to new findings from the 2024 McKinsey & Co. Mobility Consumer Global Survey.

Forty-six percent of EV owners surveyed in the United States say they will likely return to driving gas-powered vehicles.

Globally, the survey of 30,000 respondents in 15 countries found that more than one-quarter (29 percent) of EV owners are likely to go back to driving gas-powered cars.

Australia topped the list with 49 percent confirming they want to return to driving behind the wheel of an gas-powered automobile, the study found.

The lack of public charging infrastructure was the chief reason respondents wanted to switch back to gas-powered vehicles, with 35 percent saying it is “not yet good enough for me.”

Thirty-four percent noted that the total costs of EV ownership were “too high.”

The list of reasons for being disappointed in electric cars rounded out with being unable to charge at home (24 percent), too much worry and stress about charging (21 percent), changing mobility requirements (16 percent), and not enjoying the driving experience (13 percent).

Overall, 21 percent of global respondents said they would never want to switch to an electric vehicle, unchanged from 2022. By comparison, 18 percent confirmed their next automobile will be an EV, up from 16 percent in 2022.

Looking ahead to the next 10 years, 29 percent want to replace their automobile with other forms of transportation. They cited expensive car ownership costs, a desire to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and remote work.

Other studies have found similar trends in the United States.

According to the BloombergNEF 2024 Electric Vehicle Outlook, there has been growing consumer consternation surrounding the EV market.

“In the U.S., EV market jitters inflamed by the upcoming presidential election helped slow down adoption this year, and by 2027 only 29 percent of cars sold in the country [will be] electric,” the report stated as concerns surrounding driving range, price, battery lifespan, and unreliable public charging become ubiquitous across the marketplace.

America’s EV Infrastructure

The White House aims to have 56 percent of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2032.

In order to boost EVs across the country, President Joe Biden announced in March the strictest regulation on vehicle emissions to nudge the auto sector’s transition to electric cars.

Nissan and Volkswagen electric cars sit parked at a Charge Point EV charging station in Corte Madera, Calif., on July 28, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

President Biden’s recent measure plans to limit the annual amount of pollution allowed from car exhausts. Automakers that fail to meet these new standards will endure tough penalties.

But while the United States has been facilitating a market of more EV sales, the infrastructure has been lacking.

In the landmark 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, lawmakers approved $7.5 billion to construct 500,000 public charging stations for electric cars nationwide. The Inflation Reduction Act also boosts tax credits for EVs and charger installations.

To date, only eight public EV-charging stations have been deployed, receiving rebukes from both sides of the aisle.

“That is pathetic. We’re now three years into this. That is a vast administrative failure,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) at a June 5 Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee hearing. “Something is terribly wrong and it needs to be fixed.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the administration plans to build 500,000 chargers by 2030.

“Now, in order to do a charger, it’s more than just plugging a small device into the ground,” Mr. Buttigieg told CBS’s “Face the Nation” last month. “There’s utility work, and this is also really a new category of federal investment. But we’ve been working with each of the 50 states.”

When host Margaret Brennan asked why only seven or eight chargers had been built, he reiterated that a half-million chargers would be built in the next six years.

“And the very first handful of chargers are now already being physically built,” the secretary added.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced an extra $1.3 billion in funding to expand EV charging infrastructure in urban and rural communities.

“Doubling down on electrification is more important than ever to our economic prosperity and national security,” said Joint Office Executive Director Gabe Klein in a statement. “With the rest of the world pushing down on the accelerator; we are moving fast to position the United States as the global leader in the future that everyone is racing toward.”

State of the US EV Market

Over the last year, U.S. consumer demand for EVs has stalled, forcing automakers like General Motors, Ford Motor, and Volkswagen to scale back or postpone their EV plans.

But while motorists’ appetites for electric cars have faded, EV prices have been falling, particularly for used ones.

Data from iSeeCars show that used EV prices were, on average, 8 percent lower than the average price for a used gas-powered car.

“There’s no denying the crash in used electric vehicle values over the past year,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars. “We’ve watched EVs [sic] prices fall between 30 and 40 percent since June of last year, while the average gas car’s price has dropped by just 3 to 7 percent in that same timeframe.”

In January, Hertz revealed that it was selling off 20,000 EVs, representing about one-third of its entire EV fleet. The car rental company was even selling used Teslas at an average price of $25,000.

The decision came three years after announcing the largest EV rental fleet in North America.

New Electric Cars

Edmunds figures highlight that the cheapest new electric cars today are the 2024 Nissan Leaf ($28,140), 2024 Mini Electric Hardtop ($30,900), and 2024 Tesla Model 3 ($38,990).

EV market conditions are expected to stabilize in the next couple of years.

According to S&P Global Ratings, modest demand growth will range between 1 percent and 2 percent from 2024 to 2026.

“Softer sales growth in March (which equated to an annual sales rate of 15.5 million units) is consistent with our forecasts, which incorporate a delayed impact on consumer purchasing power from the contiguous macroeconomic shocks of high vehicle prices, ongoing inflation, and higher interest rates for longer,” the firm stated in an April 2024 report.

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