AAA: Electric Vehicles Are Looking More Appealing to Consumers

An electric vehicle charging in the street.
An electric vehicle charging in the street. (Getty Images)

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DENVER — Electric vehicles are becoming more economically competitive with their gas-fueled counterparts and people are feeling less “range anxiety” about how far they can get on a charge, according to new research by AAA.

Driving a compact electric vehicle over five years and 75,000 miles will cost a person only slightly more — about $600 annually — than a gas-powered vehicle, according to the report released Jan. 22. The study also showed that concerns about running out of power on a trip ease significantly once a person buys an electric car.

“While 40 million Americans have signaled an interest in buying electric for their next car, the actual adoption of these technologies is happening much, much more slowly,” AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said in a statement. “With this research, we’ve begun to explore what the experience of owning an electric vehicle has on perception of these cars and, perhaps more importantly, whether consumers would choose to go green again.”

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The push to get more electric vehicles on the roads is growing in Colorado as a way to help cut the pollution that has kept Denver and other Front Range communities from meeting federal air-quality standards. In December, the Environmental Protection Agency downgraded the area to being in “serious” violation of federal standards, which brings stricter controls on polluters.

Gov. Jared Polis has made increasing the use of electric vehicles a priority, signing an executive order in January 2019 directing state agencies to pursue policies and actions to work toward that goal. The state Air Quality Control Commission has approved rules on tougher fuel efficiency standards and requiring automakers to offer a certain percentage of electric vehicles in Colorado.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association has challenged the mandates in the courts. Tim Jackson, the organization’s CEO and president, said AAA is “a very credible organization” and he’s sure the report’s information is correct, but he has some questions.

Jackson said most people don’t drive 15,000 miles a year, the figure used by AAA. He said the average distance is from 8,000 to 10,000 miles annually, so that would affect the savings in fuel costs.

And sticker price still matters, Jackson said. An electric car can cost $12,000 to $15,000 more than a similar gas-fueled car, he said.

“The price point is still enough of a differential,” Jackson said. “That’s why consumers aren’t driving off in electric vehicles when they go into a Chevrolet or a Nissan lot.”

The state has extended tax credits for electric vehicles.

There are about 72,300 electric and hybrid vehicles in Colorado, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The findings of the AAA study, which included a survey of 1,090 electric vehicle owners, include:

The electricity required to drive 15,000 miles per year in a compact electric vehicle costs an average of $546, while the amount of gas required to drive the same distance costs $1,255, 130% more.

Electric vehicles don’t require as much maintenance as gas-powered ones because they don’t need oil changes or air-filter replacements.

Most of the electric vehicle owners, 96%, say they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car.

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