The Tesla Model 3 has become the most popular battery-car in the U.S. market.

There are plenty of reasons not to buy an EV, such as high costs and low range, or so goes the conventional wisdom. But many of those concerns vanish once motorists actually buy a battery-electric vehicle, according to a new AAA study.

One example is cost. While there may be an initial price premium, the new report estimates that, over five years and 75,000 miles of driving, the annual cost of owning and operating a battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, is only about $600 more than for a comparable gas-powered vehicle.

“Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey was the impact ownership has on commonly-held fears about electric vehicles, particularly those that have deterred consumers from making the leap to green,” noted a summary of the AAA study.

(Could 2020 become the year of the electric vehicle as numerous new models come to market?)

All told, about 40,000 electric vehicle owners participated in the research project. It found that 91% of them admitted having had at least one concern prior to purchase, such things as range anxiety or the fear of not being able to find a charging station, especially on a long trip.

The study found 77% of EV owners charge at home.

But the study also revealed many of those worries wound up disappearing after motorists actually took delivery of their battery vehicles and began using them.

The study found that 71% of those taking part in the survey were first-time EV buyers.

·         The vast majority, fully 96%, said they would go back and buy or lease another electric vehicle when it was time to trade in or add to their personal household fleet;

·         About three out four, 78%, also have a gas-powered vehicle at home – but they used their EV or about 87% of their driving;

·         On average, EV owners drive 39 miles a day and 43% of the survey respondents have actually increased their daily driving compared to when they owned a gas-powered vehicle.

“Although 40 million Americans have shown interest in buying electric for their next car, actual adoption is happening at a much slower rate,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations.

Range anxiety and what might be called “charging anxiety” remain two key concerns – but could become less of a worry as more public charging stations open up.

(Charging companies pairing up with banks, malls, fast food outlets to make it easy to plug in.)

In previous studies, AAA looked at why more motorists haven’t switched to EVs. The two most common reasons are the fear of running out of a charge while driving, cited by 57% of consumers, and the lack of public charging facilities, a concern cited by 58% of respondents.

In reality, a mere 5% of owners actually say they have run out of power while on the road. After owning an EV, that concern largely vanishes, according to AAA research.

The study also found that 75% of owners charge their vehicles at home, meaning they normally start the day with a full battery pack.

“Range anxiety has been synonymous with electric vehicles from the beginning,” said Brannon. “Hearing firsthand from owners that this is no longer a worry may change the mind of those who have otherwise been skeptical to the idea of owning an electric vehicle.”

As for the cost of operating an EV, while battery-based vehicles initially cost more, that is offset in a number of ways. The average spent on electricity to drive 15,000 miles annually is $546. The amount paid for gas to cover the same distance would be around $1,255. Since there is no need for tune-ups, oil changes or new filters, maintenance costs averaged about $330 less than the $949 annually spent to service gas vehicles, meanwhile.

(Tesla sales flattened during 2019, even as competitors began to gain more traction.)

While interest in electric vehicles continues to grow, according to numerous studies, sales continue to lag, pure battery-electric models accounting for barely 1% of the U.S. market last year. Industry experts are watching to see whether word-of-mouth, as well as the flood of new models expected to reach showrooms this year, will help push demand higher.

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