Almost half of U.S. electric car owners want to switch back to gas-powered cars, survey shows

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Nearly half of American owners of electric cars want to switch back to traditional cars powered by internal combustion engines, according to a consumer survey released by McKinsey and Co. earlier this month.

The consulting firm surveyed consumers in multiple countries: the U.S., China, Germany, Norway, Australia, France, Italy, Japan and Brazil. Between all of those countries, 29% of electric car owners want to return to driving internal combustion cars, with 46% of surveyed American electric car owners wanting to do so.

This surprised the consulting firm, cutting against received wisdom about people’s switch to electric.

“I didn’t expect that. I thought, ’Once an EV buyer, always an EV buyer,’” Philipp Kampshoff, the leader of the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility, told Automotive News.

Among the owners surveyed who are planning to switch back, 35% cited the lack of charging infrastructure, 34% said the costs were too high, 32% said planning long driving trips was too difficult, 24% said they could not currently charge at home, 21% said worrying about charging was too stressful and 13% said they did not enjoy how the cars felt while driving.

Only 9% of drivers across all countries surveyed said that current charging infrastructure was sufficient to meet their needs. While some electric car drivers want to switch back, 38% of internal combustion car drivers surveyed said they are considering buying a battery-powered or plug-in hybrid electric car as their next vehicle.

From 2021 through 2024, just over a fifth of internal combustion car drivers surveyed worldwide by McKinsey said they will not switch to an electric car ever. Some other drivers are planning to keep buying internal combustion cars for now and switch to electric at some point in the future.

Among drivers who plan on sticking with gas-powered cars, 45% said that electric cars were too expensive, 33% cited charging concerns and 29% cited concerns about the range an electric car would have before needing to be recharged.

The economic situation in the U.S. is also changing consumer behavior when it comes to electric cars. Among U.S. respondents, 44% said they were very likely to postpone buying an electric car, and 58% said they were very likely to keep holding on to their current car no matter the type.

More than half of current U.S. electric car owners, 53%, are planning to “trade down” when next making a car purchase; McKinsey did not specify whether this meant switching back to internal combustion or buying a car with less high-end features.

Nearly a fifth of American respondents, 18%, said that they are skeptical of electric cars because they enjoy driving gas-powered cars.

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