Results from the 2020 EV Driver Insights survey
November 17, 2020
November 17, 2020
We recently sent out a survey to members of our SmartCharge programs to better understand their charging behavior and to ask what is important to them for the future of the EV Ecosystem. With over 1,500 responses, we gained insight into everything from why they purchased an electric vehicle in the first place to what it would take from their utility company to shift their charging load.
Overall, there were a few main conclusions from this survey:
- Long-range electric vehicles are critical for satisfying consumer needs.
- Most drivers prefer the ability to charge at home as opposed to public charging stations.
- If they are provided with the right incentives, EV drivers are ideal customers for electric utilities.
Is range anxiety still a concern?
When asked about range anxiety, the vast majority of participants indicated that it is not a problem anymore, specifically for those who drive long-range BEVs. Overall 89% said that the range of their EV is sufficient for their daily needs, and this increases to 98% if you solely look at long-range BEV owners.
In response to questions about their comfort level with traveling to new destinations and how they would describe their level of concern regarding running out of EV range, long-range BEV drivers were also much more optimistic.
In general, range anxiety decreases for all types of electric vehicles based on EV driving experience. Range anxiety is the highest among new EV drivers and declines gradually over time. As more long-range capable EVs enter the market, and more drivers become familiar with electric vehicles, it appears that range anxiety will continue to be less of a concern.
Where do EV drivers want to charge?
Another trend this survey shows is that even though public charging infrastructure is improving, the vast majority of charging still occurs at home. Overall, 86% of respondents said they primarily charge at home using their own private charging station. The exception to this was those who live in a multi-unit residence, such as an apartment or condo, who have to rely on public charging stations due to their unique obstacles.
Regardless of where the EV owner lives, there is a clear desire for the ability to charge at home and for some, this is actually seen as a necessity. When asked what they would do if they could no longer charge at home, 30% said they would not drive an EV.
Multiple reasons were given for why EV drivers preferred to charge at home. Home charging was often cited as cheaper and more convenient, while public charging had reliability issues and could be inconvenient. A long-range BEV owner who primarily charges at home said, “We need a national standard charging infrastructure. Different plugs and plans make it more difficult than it needs to be. Just let me swipe a credit card or something. I don’t need to have an Exxon membership.”
How can utilities improve the experience of their EV customers?
As a whole, this survey paints a positive picture for the future of both EV owners and their utility company. Current EV owners want a better charging experience, and future drivers will need positive reinforcement to help guide them in the journey of going electric. Utilities can satisfy these needs while also achieving their own by focusing their efforts on two key initiatives: Improving the home charging experience and helping educate those who want to make the switch to driving electric.
Since most charging occurs at home, and since the most significant threat that EVs pose to the grid is at street-level, the first avenue that should be explored is shifting their charging load. When asked if they would be willing to have their charging shifted, assuming they would still receive a full charge, only 2% said they were unwilling or unable.
The majority responded that they would be open to having their load shifted if they received some form of financial benefits, such as a cheaper rate or a reward. At the same time, 23% said they would do it if it were more environmentally friendly. Another 18% said they would if it was more convenient, being automated or faster. This would require a level 2 charging station, which can be seen as a costly additional expense.
This means if utilities were to offer an incentive like SmartCharge Rewards®, inform their customer how charging off-peak was better for the environment and provide a rebate on a level 2 charging station, they could appeal to virtually every EV driver.
Download the full report
What makes this report unique compared to other EV surveys is that these respondents have proven that they are willing to participate in demand-side management programs. In fact 27% of respondents said they are already participating in a household energy efficiency program and 61% said they weren’t but they would be interested in joining one.
Download the full report here
Other insights covered include:
- What is different with the home versus away charging experience?
- What motivates EV drivers?
- How range is defining EV ownership?
- What this all means for utility companies?
- And more…