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More American Car Shoppers Consider Going Green as Gas Prices Climb to Record Highs


More Americans are researching green vehicles as gas prices climb to record levels, according to the experts at Edmunds, an online car shopping resource that generates more than 20 million visits every month. On-site shopper consideration of green vehicle (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric) pages on Edmunds jumped 39% over the past month[1] and increased 18% over the last week[2]. Of the shoppers who visited Edmunds during the week ending March 6, 17.9% researched a green vehicle.

Edmunds analysts estimate that green vehicles made up 6.2% and battery electric vehicles (EVs) 2.6% of all new vehicle purchases in 2021. In 2020, they estimate that green vehicles made up 4.2% and EVs 1.9% of all new vehicle purchases.

“Green vehicles — notably EVs — have grown increasingly top of mind for American consumers over the last year as more automakers have generated buzz around new products and made strong commitments to an electrified future. But the major surge in interest of late is certainly more of a reaction to record gas prices sparked by the war in Ukraine,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights. “Unfortunately, making an EV purchase is not particularly easy to do right now amid inventory shortages, and price-sensitive consumers most affected by gas price hikes will likely find that making the switch is also a bit out of financial reach due to the premiums that these vehicles command.”

According to Edmunds data, the average transaction price for a new EV climbed to $60,054 in February, which was $1,820 more than their average MSRP of $58,234. The average transaction price for a new vehicle (including EVs) was $45,596 in February, which was $680 above the average MSRP of $44,916.

Although EVs do not offer much in the way of cost savings in today’s market, Edmunds analysts acknowledge there are many reasons other than gas prices for consumers to consider going green for their next purchase.

“Automakers have made it clear for quite some time that EVs are the future of the industry, and environmental sustainability is a growing concern for consumers,” said Caldwell. “If jumping into a new EV is a top priority for you right now, it’s not going to be particularly easy to make a purchase, but there are some steps you can take to ease the process.”

Here is an up to date insider shopping guide:

  • Determine whether an EV suits your budget and lifestyle needs.
  • Consider EVs from brands that have shorter wait times or more available inventory. Check with the manufacturer’s website before placing your pre-order to make sure the timeline works for you. With the ongoing semiconductor shortage and other supply chain issues, wait times are fluid and not a guarantee. Examples include:
    • Rivian’s website states that there is no guarantee of a delivery date if you reserve today. 
    •  Tesla’s website states that wait times are model-dependent:
      • Model 3: May 2022
      • Model S: July 2022
      • Model X: October 2022 – January 2023
      • Model Y: April 2022 – August 2022
    • Ford’s website states that new orders for the Mustang Mach-E have an estimated delivery time of 20-28 weeks (although Edmunds experts note that some pre-orders from last year are still awaiting delivery).
    • Polestar’s website states that fully custom-ordered vehicles will be available by June 2022, but Edmunds experts note delivery could come sooner if you purchase a factory-built model
    • Volkswagen has some inventory of the ID.4 available for sale, but this is a model with production directly affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Consider a plug-in hybrid or regular hybrid vehicle. Edmunds experts note that plug-in hybrids and hybrids offer more fuel efficiency than regular gas-powered vehicles, and might be more widely available than EVs right now, which could be a nice compromise for consumers. Edmunds lists some of the best plug-in hybrid and regular hybrid vehicles of 2022 and 2023 here.
  • Consider a used EV, but be aware of potential pitfalls. Older EVs might offer some cost savings, but at the price of less efficiency and shorter ranges.

“There are very few scenarios in today’s market in which the impulse purchase of a new vehicle — EV or not — just to save on fuel costs will result in savings. Once you factor in the monthly payment and insurance costs, you’re likely going to be spending more than you will save in gas,” said Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of insights. “But if you’re already in the market for a replacement vehicle, you could view this surge in fuel prices as a reminder that, although many other aspects of vehicle ownership have set monthly costs, fueling can vary significantly. Since purchasing the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible is the only way to minimize this variable, now might be the time to consider a partially or fully electrified powertrain.”

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