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Why Don’t Electric Vehicles Appeal to Generation Z?

December 19, 2018

By Heather Raulerson

After my niece and her boyfriend picked me up at the airport recently, I was curious to learn if their views were similar to what J.D. Power is hearing from other Generation Z car shoppers.

“Would you ever consider getting an electric vehicle or a hybrid?” I asked. Both are recent college graduates and are working their first full-time job in the real world. At first, my niece’s boyfriend said he would be interested in having an electric vehicle because it is good for the environment. My niece said, “I’m not interested.”

But, as the drive went on, their thoughts became more developed and gave insights into why electric vehicles (EV) do not appeal to Generation Z as much as we might expect.

For this generation of young adults, finding the right full-time job is a priority. As most of us know, that may take years to figure out. While they are trying to adjust to working full-time for the first time, they are also juggling student loan payments and finding places to live closer to their new jobs. They are reluctant to add more upfront costs to their already mounting monthly expenses. This applies to their choice of transportation. As my niece put it, “Buying an electric car isn’t on the top of our list of things to do.”

This opinion is in line with the latest J.D. Power pulse survey of electric vehicle sentiment which shows that, in 2018, 54% of consumers age 18-24 say that they would not consider any type of electric vehicle. This is up substantially from 41% in 2017. For car manufacturers, that percentage of consideration is going in the wrong direction!

Multiple factors seem to be causing this generation to stay away from electric vehicles. A real concern for young adults is the ability to charge their vehicle at home. Many end up renting apartments close to their new jobs. Landlords may be unable or unwilling to provide charging stations for the tenants of these apartment buildings. Furthermore, the availability of charging stations elsewhere is often limited or not well known enough to give potential EV owners the confidence they can to find somewhere to charge their vehicle.

Frequency of Seeing Charging Stations

Some other reasons why electric vehicles do not appeal so much to Generation Z is that they are not being exposed to the automakers’ marketing efforts. Many of us that have been working in the automotive industry for some time are deeply familiar with them. But, for someone just recently graduated, not in the auto industry and ready to hit the ground running, there is little prompting to even contemplate an EV. Automakers in the United States, maybe understandably, spend the majority of their advertising dollars on more profitable vehicles and little on hybrids or electric vehicles. In addition, the higher price of electric vehicles compared to internal combustion vehicles also puts off potential young buyers.

For EVs to appeal more to Generation Z, many things need to change. Increased advertising will raise awareness which could lead to an increase of electric vehicles being purchased. And this could lead to infrastructure changes across not only roadways but also where people live giving landlords incentives, for instance, for installing charging stations for apartments/lofts, etc. It is a domino effect that must start somewhere to increase the number of consumers that will consider any form of electric vehicle. Doing nothing will keep the percentage of the young adults in Generation Z at 54% that would not consider purchasing an electric vehicle.

Type of Vehicle Considered — U.S. Gen Z

It would be nice to see this number decrease in 2019 since there will be so many more electric vehicles offered to the public. Hopefully, they will know that they are out there!

As alternative modes of transport continue their path of disruption, the need to understand how consumers want to travel now, and in the future, becomes of utmost importance. Regardless of whether your company operates within the United States or another region, J.D. Power is committed to providing you with critical consumer insights that will help you to develop a market-focused program for electrification.

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The information contained herein has been obtained by J.D. Power from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our sources, J.D. Power does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from use of such information. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Raulerson Heather Raulerson
Manager, Global Automotive Consulting
J.D. Power

Ms. Raulerson is a manager in the Global Automotive Consulting Group where the Voice of the Consumer meets the Value of the Brand. She is a subject matter expert in the areas of Human Machine Interface specific to infotainment systems, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), future mobility, connectivity, and electric vehicles.