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Americans have mixed views of electric cars as a gasoline alternative

Americans are very divided about the idea of ​​phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, and many are unsure whether they would buy a main alternative themselves: an electric car or a truck.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center finds that 47% of adults in the US support a proposal to end production of gasoline-powered cars and trucks, while 51% oppose it.

The Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how Americans view climate, energy, and environmental problems – in this case, their susceptibility to carbon-free electric vehicles. We surveyed 13,749 U.S. adults April 20-29, 2021.

The survey was conducted on the center’s American Trends Panel (ATP) and included an over-sample of adults ages 18 to 24 from the Ipsos Knowledge Panel. A total of 912 Generation Z adults born after 1996 were included in the sample.

The respondents from both panels are recruited through a national random sample of residential addresses. This way, almost all US adults have a chance of choice. The poll is weighted to be representative of the adult US population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education, and other categories. Read more about the methodology of ATP.

Here are the questions that were used for this report, along with the answers and methodology.

About four in ten Americans (39%) say they are at least partially serious about electric vehicles the next time they buy a vehicle, while 46% say they tend not to, or not at all. Another 14% do not expect to buy a car or truck in the future.

Only 7% of US adults say they currently own an electric or hybrid vehicle. Most of these owners (72%) say they are very (43%) or more likely (29%) likely to seriously consider an electric car or truck next time around.

But the three in ten Americans who describe themselves as a lot about electric vehicles are divided about their openness to the electric vehicle path: 53% of that group are at least somewhat likely to consider buying an electric vehicle in the future. while 39% say they tend not to, or not at all.

Electric vehicle sales have been slow to pick up in the United States, but automakers are investing heavily in technology, with Ford Motor Co., General Motors, and others expecting the global electric vehicle market to grow.

Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 are more open to buying an electric vehicle, especially when compared to baby boomers and older adults. Similarly, other results in the same survey showed that younger generations are more receptive to the idea of ​​retiring gasoline-powered vehicles. The majority of Gen Z adults (56%) and Millennials (57%) are in favor of phasing out production of new gasoline vehicles by 2035, compared to lower proportions of Gen X (45%) and baby boomers and older (38%) Americans .

Public opinion on electric vehicles appears to be clear in two ways at this stage. About two-thirds of Americans (67%) say electric cars and trucks are better for the environment compared to gas vehicles. However, a similar proportion (66%) also see electric vehicles in the higher price segment.

Two-thirds of US adults think electric vehicles are better for the environment and cost more

About twice as many Americans consider electric vehicles to be deficient compared to their gas-powered counterparts (34% versus 15%), but about half the population (49%) sees little difference between them.

When it comes to the emotionally driven reactions when driving an electric vehicle, a majority calls it a litter; 62% say that the driving experience for gas and electric vehicles is roughly the same, while 13% say electric vehicles are more fun to drive and 21% give gas vehicles more driving pleasure.

Note: Here are the questions used for this report along with the answers and methodology.

Alison Spencer is a research fellow with a focus on science and society at the Pew Research Center.

Cary Funk is director of science and society studies at the Pew Research Center.


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