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Consumers love larger vehicles, which may be another reason they aren’t buying mandated EV's

Half of all new car sales across the globe in 2022 were small and large SUVs. The electric versions of these vehicles are expensive and have limited towing range, which dealerships say are a turn-off for car buyers.

Published: November 30, 2023 11:00pm

The Biden administration has a vision of what kind of car people should drive, and it went about setting up mandates to push — if not force — people to go electric.

Car buyers' preferences however, contradict the policymakers’ visions. The higher purchase price and lack of charging access steers buyers toward conventional automobiles, and consumers’ love of bigger vehicles may also be making gas-powered vehicles more attractive.

A new report from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI), a zero-emissions vehicle advocacy group, shows that sport utility vehicles (SUVs) made up half of all new car sales across the globe in 2022. The International Energy Agency, which uses a narrower definition of what constitutes an SUV, estimates that SUVs accounted for 46% of global car sales.

Nearly 4,000 dealerships, which interact with car buyers every day, wrote a letter to President Joe Biden warning him that their lots are filling up with unsold EVs. One of the points the letter makes is that early EV adopters “formed an initial line” eager to buy up the vehicles as soon as they were available. Now, the customers aren’t coming to the dealerships looking for electric vehicles. They’re looking to satisfy their transportation needs.

Besides the purchase prices and charging availability, the letter stated, truck buyers really weren’t interested in taking the electric versions of their preferred vehicles. “Truck buyers are especially put off by the dramatic loss of range when towing. Today’s current technology is not adequate to support the needs of the majority of our consumers,” the letter stated.

Aaron Turpen, an automotive journalist who has test driven and written about many models of EVs, told Just The News that large electric SUVs aren’t vehicles for the average car consumer.
“The only large SUVs that are electric are all luxury makes,” Turpen said.

He said typically electric vehicles appeal to consumers with larger budgets, so he estimates that 80% of the EV market is luxury vehicles.

These large electric SUVs are also very heavy. The GMC Hummer EV, which has the largest battery pack on the market, weighs over 9,000 pounds.“That’s more than most heavy-duty pickup trucks weigh,” Turpen said.

The GFEI report shows that the bulk of electric SUVs sold are the smaller, mid-sized versions. “Mainstream buyers are actually buying in a midsize segment. That's anywhere from the Toyota Highlander to the Honda Pilot — that kind of size, which is not nearly as large,” Turpen said.

In that size range, electrification still gives over 300 miles or more of range, he said, which fits a larger group of consumers. “I think it's just a matter of the price tag not being there for a little while. Because battery electrics are still new. It's still an expensive technology,” Turpen added.

The 2023 Kia EV6 has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $42,600. While it might fit more budgets, it’s still considerably more than a 2023 Kia Sorento, which has an MSRP of just under $30,000.
Even if the price comes within most car buyers' budget, as the dealerships’ letter to the president stated, range when towing capacity is a big concern.

One Kia EV6 owner found about a 50% loss in range from his vehicle when towing a five-by-eight foot trailer. This is about the same for many of the electric pickups, such as the Ford F-150 Lightning. In a review of the pickup truck published in Cowboy State Daily, Turpen pointed out that it’s about the same rate of loss of miles-per-gallon on a gas-powered Ford F-150.

By contrast, with a 23 gallon fuel tank at 14 miles per gallon, the gas-powered Ford F-150 still takes you 322 miles on a full tank, or roughly three times as far as the Lightning.

The newest entry into the electric pickup truck market is the Tesla Cybertruck. The first models were delivered during an event in Austin on Thursday. According to specifications listed on the company’s Cybertruck reservation website, the futuristic trucks can tow 11,000 pounds. With a range of around 340 miles, assuming a 50% loss in range with a towing load, Cybertruck drivers will need to charge every 170 miles.

The Tesla pickups are also pricey, with the base model, which won’t be available until 2025, starting at just under $50,000. Turpen said that electric light- and heavy-duty vehicles will become more appealing as the technology improves and prices come down.

It’s a point that the dealerships made in their letter. The problems, they argued, will be addressed. Charging networks will be built out, prices will come down, battery technology will improve, and domestic sources of minerals will be developed. Until then, however, consumers are going to leave EV's sitting on the sales lots.

“Allow time for the American consumer to get comfortable with the technology and make the choice to buy an electric vehicle,” the letter stated.

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