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EV Drivers - who are they now and in the future? - Part 1

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

What do Electric Vehicle buyers and owners want?


In this article which is based on data from Electric Vehicle Councils study, JD Power buyer considerations and other sources to better understand how and where consumers drive and recharge their electric vehicles (EVs) and what they would like to experience while recharging in terms of site design, amenities, capabilities, and services.


It is intended to understand current consumer behaviour and how it will evolve in the next 10 years.


We will look at the following 5 areas in a series of articles published in the coming days:

  • Who is the EV Driver?

  • When and where does the EV Driver recharge?

  • Why does an EV Driver choose a particular recharging facility?

  • How do EV drivers interact with charging equipment?

  • What do EV Drivers do at facilities while charging?

The first part of a five part series.


Part 1 — Who is the EV Driver?


Now

The top demographic of 2019 EV owners are middle-aged white men earning more than £80,000 annually with a University degree or higher and at least one other vehicle in their household.


And a guaranteed tax rebate or incentives could make them more likely to consider an EV during their next purchase or lease.


EV sales have grown exponentially over the past 10 years; however, the ownership demographic has remained relatively the same. The average EV owner continues to be male, aged 40–55 years old, with an annual household income of more than £00,000 (2019). Mileage driven, however, has increased from 100 miles to 250 miles a week over the years.


Demographics


PEV buyers tend to follow the general trend of new car buyers. The dominant age group for PEV buyers across the board is 25–54 years old, according to Hedges Company’s 2019 survey (Figure 1)


Figure 1


The most dominant annual household income bracket amongst PEV buyers is “greater than £80,000.” For conventional vehicles, buyers are almost evenly split between “less than £40,000” and “greater than £80,000” annual household income (Figure 2). The average household annual income of most EV owners is found to be between £100,000 and £125,000, according to the same survey.



Most PEV owners have at least a University degree according to the survey conducted by Morgan State University (Figure 5).



Survey of EV owners revealed that 78% of them also owned a gas-powered car (Figure 6).



In most countries or regions, BEV adoption is concentrated in more affluent geographical areas. In most countries the concentration is in more affluent areas. In the UK this is in the South-East and London (figure 7). In the USA this is concentrated along the zero-emissions belt (Figure 9).


BEV registrations in California in 2018 were approximately 256,000, which was roughly equal to the BEV registrations in all other states combined (approximately 286,000).


Figure 7


In many cases in all countries the combination of local policies, incentives and higher income means a higher EV adoption.




Figure 11

In the EU the EV adoption in 2020 was focused on Nordic countries, Benelux, Germany and UK.


Policies at the European Union, national, and local level are contributing to electric vehicle uptake.


Daily commute lengths of PEV drivers


In 2017, self-estimated annual mileage indicates an average daily commute between 20 and 35 miles.


For EV drivers, however, the average daily commute length is estimated to be between 31 and 39 miles. One reason for this observed trend could be BEVs have a lower cost of fuel and maintenance compared to an ICE-powered vehicle


Most EV owners also own a second vehicle in the household, which could be a conventional vehicle. Given the cheaper operating cost of a BEV compared to a conventional vehicle, owners might prefer to use the BEV for a higher number

of trips. Another reason could be that the constant increase of both average EV battery range and charging infrastructure has reduced range anxiety for drivers.


Next 10 years

  • In the next 10 years, EV sales are expected to constitute between 12% and 40% of all light-duty vehicle sales, implying that:

  • EV buyer age could normalise with the broader new vehicle buying trend

  • EVs could become more affordable

  • Number of EV buyers with no provision to charge at home could increase

  • Driving pattern is expected to be similar to the way internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are driven

  • Gender distribution could become more balanced

  • EV fleet sales are expected to grow in the upcoming years, driven by country mandates and incentives.

  • Household income, family size, age, driving distance, geographical location, and type of residence tend to influence EV ownership.

  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) and payback period are the key drivers in a business’ decision involving adoption of EVs in their commercial fleet.

  • Affordability, availability, and familiarity appear to be amongst the key factors influencing likelihood of EV purchases.

  • EV trips are mostly planned with charging locations in mind, unlike conventional vehicles; however, more daily miles are driven on average in an EV (2020) than in an ICE-powered vehicle.

Evolution of EV Buyer demographics and behaviour over the past 10 years


BEV production in the U.S. has been experiencing exponential growth aided by falling battery prices (Figure 13). Figure 12 for the UK has similar exponential growth.


Figure 12





The PEV buyer’s age group has stayed the same over the years (Figure 14).27 The average household annual income has been consistently over $100,000. Most PEV owners have had a garage with an outlet to charge their vehicle.29 PEV buyers have mostly been male. Mileage travelled, however, has increased from 100 miles a week to 250 miles a week over the past 10 years. This could be attributed to the fact that both the average battery range on a typical EV and the charging infrastructure have been growing constantly, which helps ease range anxiety for buyers. In addition to this, the cost of operating an EV is less than that of a conventional vehicle, encouraging drivers to drive their EVs more than their other conventional vehicle(s).


The EV fleet has grown over the past 10 years where commercial fleet operators have gained more experience in deploying EVs in the field. EV usage in the commercial sector has evolved from limited-use transit bus applications to medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, delivery vans, and light-duty trucks. A very recent example to this is Amazon’s 2020 investment in Rivian to provide vans for its fleet.


Figure 14


Anticipated Evolution of EV Buyer Demographics and behaviour over the next 10 years


BEV production is expected to steadily grow within the next decade. At some point, BEVs are expected to reach price parity with ICE vehicles Figure 15.

Companies such as Volkswagen and Volvo expect to generate at least 40% of their sales from EVs by 2025; most other auto OEMs are expected to follow this trend. By 2030, up to 40% of all new car sales could be EVs. Given that the number of available EV segments is expected to broaden, the cost of owning an EV is forecast to be on par with a conventional vehicle, and charging infrastructure

is estimated to grow to meet the demand, The EV buyer demographic could normalise with the new car buyer over the next 10 years (Figure 16).



The EV fleet is expected to grow in the upcoming years, primarily driven by state mandates. Most countries with significant adoption or plans for EV adoption have hybrid or EV fleet requirements, acquisition goals, or a stated preference for purchasing hybrid or EVs to be used in the state’s fleet. For example, California’s 2020 mandate requiring 5–9% of 2024 model year trucks, based on class, to be ZEVs is expected to expand to have 30–50% of trucks to be ZEVs by 2030 and 100% where feasible by 2045.


Demographic characteristics and their relationship with EV Ownership and behaviour


Currently, EVs are predominantly saloon or hatchbacks, which may not cater to the requirement of SUV, truck, and minivan drivers. In a 2019 study, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Consumer Reports reported a strong consensus (72%) that PEVs should be produced in other forms, so they may address the requirements of drivers of these vehicles.

In the same study, approximately half of all prospective EV buyers reported a belief that the federal government should invest money to help consumers buy PEVs.


Another key theme is that younger people between the age of 25 and 34 may not be able to afford EVs due to factors such as student debt, wage stagnation, and lack of access to home charging or at-home parking. Some report using public transportation to be more practical than owning a car.


PEV buyers appear to value affordability by means of a lower purchase price, lower operating costs, and federal and/or state support, amongst others (Figure 17). They expect a PEV to be time-saving by charging quickly and having a long range. Charger availability at home and in public places appears important to prospective PEV buyers.


Some of those surveyed feel that familiarity with the technology could encourage a purchase, such as while renting a PEV and riding in a PEV ride-share or taxi. Potential buyers value choices in form and attractive vehicle design, amongst other factors, that could help them decide to purchase an EV.



Decision making for adoption of EVs in commercial fleet applications is deeply rooted in a viable business case and the ability to meet operational requirements. Hence, TCO and the payback period are key metrics considered by fleets, which are impacted by EV price, cost of infrastructure, operational cost savings, and residual value at the end of the vehicle’s primary usage. Vehicle uptime, duty cycle, range, and payload requirements are other major factors that fleets take into consideration.


EVs have penetrated several commercial vehicle on-highway and off-highway applications, such as transit buses, school buses, medium-duty delivery vans, yard trucks, forklifts, and heavy-duty on-highway trucks. However, currently commercial EVs are for local operations, often involving stop-and-go duty cycles, where the vehicles return to base and rely on private charging infrastructure owned and operated by the fleet.


Difference in trips taken in EV’s versus Liquid-fuel Vehicles


Early adopters found that limited battery range and lack of widespread availability of public chargers made longer trips more difficult in EVs. According to an AAA study, the average EV owner drives 39 miles a day. This is slightly more than the national average of all vehicles, which is between 20–35 miles a day.


In general, more miles are driven today in an EV than in a conventional liquid-fueled vehicle, and drivers have started treating EVs like they would treat a conventional liquid-fueled vehicle. This is different from the situation a few years ago when the average number of miles driven in an EV had been roughly 15 miles a day. This has been largely attributed to the increased range on EVs and availability of EV chargers, instilling confidence in drivers to drive longer miles, especially because operational expense for EVs is lower than that for gasoline vehicles.


To compare this difference in operational expense, in 2019, the U.S. national average price of gas was $2.5 per gallon.57 The average fuel economy of a gas vehicle (average of short wheelbase light vehicle in 2019) is 24.1 mpg.58 Based on the above, one mile costs 9.6 on gas. The average cost of retail residential electricity was 13.04 per kWh in 2019,59 and the average fuel efficiency of a BEV is 32.63kWh per 100 miles,60 or 0.3263 kWh per mile. This implies one mile on electricity costs 4.25, which is roughly less than half of the cost to travel in a gas-powered Vehicle.


Many countries allow PEVs to use high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes, cutting drivers’ commute times by a significant portion and helping them make a statement about their “tech-savvy-ness” or their environmental consciousness. This gives drivers more reasons to drive a PEV, especially when they have more than one vehicle in their household.


One major difference in EV driving behaviour is that long trips are mostly planned with charging locations in mind, as opposed to a conventional vehicle’s ability to refuel at almost any gas station, which far outnumber the number of available charging stations.


Second Part: When and where does the EV Driver recharge


References


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