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Why do young people want to buy an EV? Because they're 'cool'

January 21, 2022
A decade or so ago, doomsayers claimed personal vehicle ownership would tank, largely because young people of the time (millennials) weren’t interested in buying vehicles.
Well, scratch that item off the endangered list. Today’s Americans might not have a love affair with cars like they supposedly did in earlier times. But they sure need and want them.
That’s one of the findings of the 2022 State of the American Driver Report from a company named Jerry. It has an app that connects consumers with car insurers.
Among its survey standouts is that 80% of American drivers consider a vehicle as essential to daily and weekly activities.
But wait. Weren’t ride-hailing services expected to take over the transportation world? Who would need to buy a car if the likes of Uber and Lyft can be used?
"One of the most interesting results of the survey is that 50% of Americans have never used a ride-hailing app, even though ride-hailing feels ubiquitous," said Lakshmi Iyengar,  a Jerry data scientist.
Why’s that? First, such services typically aren’t available outside of urban areas. (Midwesterners are most likely to never have used a ride-hailing app.) Try summoning Uber from a farm town.
Moreover, the COVID pandemic has made many people apprehensive about getting into a ride-hailing car that’s had multiple occupancies throughout the day.
American consumer feelings about electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles were other survey topics.
A third of those polled never expect to drive an EV in their lifetime, while half expect to do so within 10 years.
However, many people with an interest in buying an EV aren’t necessarily out to save the planet. Fuel savings motivate them the most.
According to the survey, millennials (ages 25-40) are most eager to go electric, followed by Gen Z (ages 16-24).
Boomers (ages 57-75) are the least likely to show an interest in buying an EV, yet they were the only generation to first cite concern for the environment as a purchase reason. Gen Z’s primary interest is because EVs are "cool."
Topping the list, 47% of polled millennials are interested in buying an EV as their next vehicle. Gen Z followed at 41%, Gen X at 38% and baby boomers at 28%. Men were more interested (43%) compared to women (36%).
"The EV results are really interesting," Iyengar said. "EVs are getting close to a tipping point. As EVs scale in the next 10-15 years, we’ll see lower prices and cost benefits play out."
Regarding autonomous vehicles, Americans are split about their potential use in future daily life. Forty percent of polled drivers never expect to use a self-driving vehicle.
Gen Z drivers were most likely to say they expect to use a fully autonomous vehicle within five years. (That might stem from youthful optimism, because it’s questionable whether Level 5 autonomous vehicles will be on the market by 2027.)  
"As expected, younger drivers are the most optimistic, but in their lifetime they have seen such rapid technological progress," Iyengar said. "They have come to expect it."
Another survey finding: One in four American drivers are planning to car shop in 2022, but they anticipate facing continued supply-and-demand issues as a global microchip shortage has led to vehicle inventory shortages and increased prices.
Iyengar said some consumers need to buy a car while others with ample wherewithal want a new vehicle — and are willing to pay more. A third say they will shop if prices drop. "Americans experienced sticker shock when shopping for new and used cars in 2021, and no relief is in sight this year," she said.
The online survey of 1,250 respondents was conducted in December.