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U.S. EV research spikes as gas prices rise

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Let’s face it: Gas prices are a problem. But unlike the last time gas prices peaked, today there’s an intriguing option for avoiding the issue altogether: electric vehicles. And while most consumers have yet to actually pull the trigger on owning one of these vehicles, data shows that the thought of parking one in the driveway has evolved from a raised eyebrow and a chin rub to actually putting in the work to see if the option is worthwhile.

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Well, by “putting in the work,” I mean consumers are willing to start with Google – but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

In fact, according to Google Trends, Google searches for “electric vehicle” nearly tripled month/month, Feb. 6-March 6 (Google doesn’t report actual search numbers, just “trends”).

With gas prices recently hitting an all-time high, Edmunds is also reporting a surge in EV searches.

Buzz Social Charts Edmunds 033122
On-site shopper consideration of green vehicle (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric) pages on Edmunds jumped 39% over the past month (Feb. 6-March 6).

More Americans are researching greener vehicles as gas prices climb to record levels, according to new data from Edmunds. On-site shopper consideration of green vehicle (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric) pages on Edmunds jumped 39% over the past month (Feb. 6-March 6) and increased 18% during the first week of March. Of the shoppers who visited Edmunds during the week ending March 6, 17.9% researched a green vehicle.

Edmunds analysts estimate that green vehicles made up 6.2% and battery electric vehicles (EVs) 2.6% of all new vehicle purchases in 2021. In 2020, they estimate that green vehicles made up 4.2% and EVs 1.9% of all new vehicle purchases.

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“Green vehicles — notably EVs — have grown increasingly top of mind for American consumers over the last year as more automakers have generated buzz around new products and made strong commitments to an electrified future. But the major surge in interest of late is certainly more of a reaction to record gas prices sparked by the war in Ukraine,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights. “Unfortunately, making an EV purchase is not particularly easy to do right now amid inventory shortages, and price-sensitive consumers most affected by gas price hikes will likely find that making the switch is also a bit out of financial reach due to the premiums that these vehicles command.”

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According to Edmunds data, the average transaction price for a new EV climbed to $60,054 in February, which was $1,820 more than their average MSRP of $58,234. The average transaction price for a new vehicle (including EVs) was $45,596 in February, which was $680 above the average MSRP of $44,916.

Although EVs do not offer much in the way of cost savings in today’s market, Edmunds analysts acknowledge there are many reasons other than gas prices for consumers to consider going green for their next purchase.

“Automakers have made it clear for quite some time that EVs are the future of the industry, and environmental sustainability is a growing concern for consumers,” said Caldwell. “If jumping into a new EV is a top priority for you right now, it’s not going to be particularly easy to make a purchase, but there are some steps you can take to ease the process.”

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According to Google Trends, Google searches for “electric vehicle” nearly tripled month/month, Feb. 6-March 6.

To help consumers looking for a place to start, Edmunds suggests consumers should consider a plug-in hybrid or regular hybrid vehicle. Plug-in hybrids and hybrids offer more fuel efficiency than regular gas-powered vehicles, and might be more widely available than EVs right now, which could be a nice compromise for consumers.

Used EVs may seem enticing due to some cost savings, but at the price of less efficiency and shorter ranges. Inistead, Edmunds says consumers should cConsider EVs from brands that have shorter wait times or more available inventory. Check with the manufacturer’s website before placing your pre-order to make sure the timeline works for you. With the ongoing semiconductor shortage and other supply chain issues, wait times are fluid and not a guarantee. Examples include:

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• Rivian’s website states that there is no guarantee of a delivery date if you reserve today.
• Polestar’s website states that fully custom-ordered vehicles will be available by June 2022, but Edmunds experts note delivery could come sooner if you purchase a factory-built model
• Volkswagen has some inventory of the ID.4 available for sale, but this is a model with production directly affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
• Tesla’s website states that wait times are model-dependent:

  • Model 3: May 2022
  • Model S: July 2022
  • Model X: October 2022 – January 2023
  • Model Y: April 2022 – August 2022

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