As per a new Escalent survey, electric vehicle shoppers prefer established automakers to Tesla and relatively new electric car startups such as Rivian, but the current batch of products falls short of the mark. Over a third of survey respondents (35%) preferred purchasing an EV from a well-known automaker, while only 24% said they’d buy their first EV from one of the newer specialized electric vehicle companies. 


Some further 41% of those polled were indecisive. As per the survey, the top five aspects consumers want in an electric vehicle are dependability, the latest safety technologies, low maintenance costs, good value for money, and innovative technologies and features.

However, only 5% to 31% of respondents thought any automaker was providing any of those five characteristics. In addition, respondents were more knowledgeable about specific electric vehicle models from niche brands than established automakers. 

2022 Kia EV6

It’s worth noting that this data comes from a national sample of “mainstream car owners” and “luxury car owners,” and isn’t essentially weighted to represent typical electric car buyer demographics. The lack of range from the top-five attributes buyers regard most highly distinguishes these responses from those of previous surveys. In most previous surveys, range was rated as a top priority.

Tesla buyers have a well-deserved reputation for customer loyalty, though a recent survey revealed that they, too, cross-shop. However, Tesla sold 78 percent of all EVs purchased in California in the first quarter of 2022, indicating that consumers’ positive feelings toward other automakers have yet to show through higher sales.

2022 Tesla lineup  (Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.)

More than just the cars are at stake when it comes to EV deployment. Charging, or charging education, could be a part of the problem. Tesla’s extensive network of public charging stations remains a significant competitive advantage.

All automakers must also consider the large number of people who have never driven an electric vehicle. A 2020 poll found that 70% of Americans had never driven an electric vehicle and that many of the relatively similar barriers that existed when the General Motors EV1 was introduced in the 1990s were still present nearly 25 years later.