A new study shows fewer Americans are planning to drive to their holiday destinations for Memorial Day Weekend as gas prices are up 35% year-over-year. However, the number of drivers is down only 7%, although one group of drivers is on the rise.
Overall, travel for the long holiday weekend is expected to rise 8% compared to 2021, but drivers are down except for one group: EV drivers, who don’t have to contend with gas prices in excess of $4.50 a gallon and expected to rise.
“Record-high gas prices aren’t scaring away as many avid road trippers this Memorial Day as one would think,” said Jenni Newman, Cars.com’s editor-in-chief.
“It seems many Americans are willing to pay a premium to take some time off and celebrate the holiday. But the nature of the road trip is changing: Carpooling is no longer just for work and school commutes, and routes and destinations are being shaped by the availability of EV infrastructure for a growing number of travelers.”
Ways to save some cash
With inflation and other costs on the rise, travelers are looking for ways to save some money while still taking a trip this summer.
One way to save a few bucks is to simply not travel as far and, according to Harvest Hosts, a membership program for RVers, 62% of those traveling are doing just that. About 53% say high gas prices are limiting their travel plans, whether on the road or in the air. Perhaps this is why the company is seeing peak demand, as 22% have already shortened their trips to control costs.
“Road travel continues to peak travelers’ interest despite the rising cost of fuel. We’re seeing more travelers opt for shorter trips closer to home, planning quick getaways to nearby destinations,” said Joel Holland, CEO of Harvest Hosts.
Don’t use gas at all
Eighty-seven percent of consumers surveyed by Cars.com say they will be traveling with others this holiday weekend, with 51% citing high gas prices as a driver. For those traveling by car, 11% will be taking an electric vehicle on the road.
“An EV road trip means more than just relief at the pump; it adds a whole new element to the trip including accounting for charging opportunities across a country that’s still building up its EV infrastructure,” Newman noted.
The survey showed EV drivers could save an average of $110-$180 for those three to five trips this year, assuming they are traveling about 200 miles at a time. While savings can vary depending on the vehicle, weight and other factors that impact fuel efficiency, if, for example, a driver of a 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan will spend $18.36 in gas (at $4.59 a gallon) to go 100 miles, a driver of a comparable 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 will spend $4.32 per kilowatt-hour ($1.08 charge) to go 100 miles. That’s almost 25% more for a gas-powered vehicle than an EV, according to the EPA.