Automobile

Tesla, Rivian and rivals hike EV prices just as Americans warm to them

The good news for EV proponents, including major automakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen, is that surveys show consumers are warming up to the new crop of vehicles. Unlike the small electric hatchbacks that marked the EV segment a decade ago, new-generation EVs are designed to directly replace gasoline-powered crossovers and pickups.

In a recent report, AutoPacific forecast U.S. EV sales at 670,000 this year in response to growing consumer demand. EV registrations rose last year by 91 percent, according to data firm Experian, to a record 481,677 vehicles.

As part of its EV forecast, AutoPacific released results of its latest consumer survey, which showed that 11 percent of car owners are interested in an EV for their next vehicle purchase. In early 2020, that number was just 3 percent.

The increase in interest is driven by a wave of new and exciting vehicles, rather than just higher gasoline prices, according to the survey. AutoPacific sees EV sales rising to 2.5 million in 2027.

“Our data really seems to suggest that it’s more about the influx of new products coming into the market than fuel prices,” said Kim. Although fueling cost was among the top three factors cited by consumers, so were “EVs are the way of the future,” and “an EV is better for the environment,” which bodes well for long-term interest.

In the short-term, however, prices for EVs are easily outstripping combustion-engine counterparts.

According to Edmunds data, the average transaction price for a new EV climbed to $60,054 in February. That compared with an average transaction price for all vehicles of $45,596. Furthermore, EV buyers were paying an average of $1,820 over sticker, compared with a $680 average markup for all vehicles.

Nonetheless, consumer interest in electrified vehicles — including hybrids and full-electrics — is rising, Edmunds said in a separate report this week. One-quarter of shoppers on its website were considering electrified options in mid-March, nearly doubling from February as gasoline prices soared.

“We seem to have finally arrived at the moment when consumers are actually educating themselves on electrified vehicles,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds. “The irony is that although market forces are driving up consumer appetite for these vehicles, it’s coming at a time where few are actually available to purchase.”

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