Results from the 2020 EV Driver Insights survey

Published on November 17, 2020 in Smart Charging by Chad Saliba


In this article we examine the charging behavior and motivations of 1,500 EV owners.

We recently sent out a survey to members of our SmartCharge programs. The purpose of this survey was to uncover EV charging behavior and to learn what consumers want from the EV ecosystem in the future. Receiving over 1,500 responses, we gained insights on everything from purchasing criteria to load shifting.

 

Overall, there were a few main conclusions from this survey:

  • Long-range electric vehicles are critical for satisfying consumer needs.
  • Most drivers prefer to charge at home rather than in public charging stations.
  • If given the right incentives, EV drivers are ideal customers for electric utilities.

Is range anxiety still a concern?

The vast majority of participants said that range anxiety is no longer a problem, especially those driving long-range BEVs. 89% of participants said that the range of their EV is sufficient for their daily needs (increasing to 98% among long-range BEV owners alone.) Long-range BEV drivers were also much more optimistic about travelling to new destinations.

EV range charts

Range anxiety generally decreases for all types of electric vehicles based on EV driving experience. Range anxiety is highest among new EV drivers and declines gradually over time. As more long-range capable EVs enter the market, and as more drivers become familiar with electric vehicles, it is expected that range anxiety will become less of a concern.

Where do EV drivers want to charge?

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 came from those living in a multi-unit residence, such as an apartment or condo, who rely on public charging stations.

Primary charging location charts

No matter where EV owners live, most would prefer to charge at home and some see it 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 could be inconvenient or seen as unreliable.

 

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?

This survey paints a positive picture overall for the future of both EV owners and their utility companies.

 

EV owners want a better charging experience, while future EV drivers need positive reinforcement in their journey towards electrification. Utilities can satisfy these needs, and their own, by focusing on two key initiatives:

  1. Improving the home charging experience
  2. Educating those considering the switch.

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 the EV owners were 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 said that they would be open to having their load shifted if they received financial benefits, such as a cheaper rate or a reward. 23% said they would do it if it were more environmentally friendly. Another 18% said they would if it was more convenient, such as being automated or faster. This would require a level 2 charging station, which can be seen as a costly additional expense.

Motivation to charge differently chart

This means if utilities were to offer an incentive, like SmartCharge Rewards®, which informed their customers how charging off-peak was better for the environment, and provide a rebate on a level 2 charging station, they could appeal to many more EV drivers.

 

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 were already participating in a household energy efficiency program and 61% said they would be interested in joining one.

Household energy efficiency program chart

Other insights covered include the motivations of EV drivers, the charging experience at home versus away, how range is defining EV ownership — and what this all means for utility companies.


If you liked this post, let us know!


Disclaimer

Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

Subscribe to the Geotab Blog

Sign up for monthly news and tips from our award-winning fleet management blog. You can unsubscribe at any time.