Are you interested in purchasing an electric car?
About i360’s Consumer Pulse: The Consumer Pulse asks 1,000, of the 2.5 million US adult panelists, over 150 questions daily. Questions center around key topics such as economy, lifestyle, real estate, automotive, shopping, employment, political opinions, and more.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE DEMAND
Over the past six months, the US witnessed volatile changes in gasoline prices, which rose with the invasion of Ukraine and dropped with fears of a recession. i360’s team of in-house analysts examined the relationship between interest in electric vehicles (“EV”) and gasoline prices to understand the influence of fuel prices on EV demand. Is demand for EVs driven by high gasoline prices or is there more to the story? After analyzing the relationship between interest and fuel cost, we considered consumer preference – which brands are consumers most interested in when considering an EV.
Consumer Pulse findings show that gasoline prices don’t influence the purchase intent of EVs. The correlation between weekly gas price changes and changes in interest is close to zero. Instead, we found steady growth in the percentage of US residents who are “Very Likely” or “Somewhat Likely” to purchase an EV. The question is only asked to those who expect to buy a car in the next 12 months.
Looking at the response data by urbanicity, a measure of the density of the respondent’s neighborhood, our analysts found that urban dwellers are almost twice as likely to consider purchasing an EV compared to rural dwellers. One plausible explanation for this is the increased availability of charging infrastructure around cities compared to rural areas.
When Consumer Pulse asks EV purchasers, “Why are you interested in purchasing an electric vehicle?” the top cited reasons (they can pick several answers) are “An EV is better for the environment” at 68% and “An EV will save me money” at 66 %. So, US adults see an EV purchase as a win/win, getting to do something for the environment and saving money. When we ask about EV buying hesitancy, the number one reason cited for not buying an EV is cost, with 65% of respondents selecting this. EVs and Hybrids certainly command a premium price relative to gasoline-only vehicles. The lack of charging at home or work is the second most cited reason, at 27%.
EV BRAND INTEREST RANKINGS
Of those purchasing an EV, we see Toyota (NYSE: TM) as the top brand they are considering.
Consumers see hybrids, where Toyota has a historically strong offering, as providing the right blend of range with limited fuel consumption. In addition, the Toyota Prius is the oldest hybrid vehicle in the US Market. However, in a close second is Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). Tesla’s vehicles are pure electric, but they benefit from their nationwide charging infrastructure, perhaps easing concerns about the need for gasoline in a pinch.
Although Toyota holds a dominant position in EV purchase expectations, the market still gives Tesla the benefit of the doubt regarding its ultimate dominance. The enterprise value of Toyota is $346 billion compared to Tesla’s $886 billion and trades at 10.6x current P/E vs. Tesla’s P/E of 94.3x. Our survey data shows that Toyota is likely well positioned to benefit from growing EV interest in the US, and perhaps the market isn’t giving them the credit they deserve for this growth market. In addition, the drop in fuel prices should not be a great concern to investors in the EV space. Demand continues to grow in the face of recent gasoline price declines.
Disclosure: The information in these blog posts, based on i360’s Consumer Pulse, is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice on any matter.