Cox Automotive 2024 Path to EV Adoption Study Suggests Electric Vehicle Consideration Will Surge in Second Half of Decade

15 May 2024

A second, significant wave of shoppers ready to consider buying an electric vehicle is poised to begin entering the market in the second half of the decade, according to the latest findings from the 2024 Path to EV Adoption Study by Cox Automotive. The findings indicate that nearly half of all vehicle shoppers in market today are not even considering an EV – a group the study identifies as Skeptics, shoppers who are only considering vehicles powered by traditional internal combustion engines.

But the Skeptics are coming, the study suggests. As technology improves, the U.S. charging network expands and prices moderate further, 54% of current Skeptics will become EV Considerers within three to five years. Within the next ten years, 80% of today's Skeptics will be ready to consider an EV as more barriers fall.

Last year, EV sales in the U.S. market surpassed 1 million units for the first time, according to sales estimates by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive brand. Sales growth continues, albeit slowly, and electric vehicle prices continue to decline, thanks mostly to higher incentives and drastic price cuts by market leader Tesla. Still, EV consideration has waned in the U.S. after peaking in 2022. The latest study from Cox Automotive suggests the recent drop in consideration and slowing of EV sales growth is likely a shift in market dynamics as EV sales enter a new phase of development.

"While we've seen EV sales growth slow and consideration dip, we believe this is part of a normal growth curve and not the end of the story," said Isabelle Helms, vice president of Research and Market Intelligence at Cox Automotive. "We remain bullish on the long-term future of EV sales in America, as many Skeptics today will be carefully considering an EV by the end of the decade. With more infrastructure, education and technological innovation and improvements, we believe electric vehicle sales will continue to grow in the long term."

Key findings from the 2024 Path to EV Adoption Study by Cox Automotive include:

EV Skeptics – The Next Wave Is Coming
The Cox Automotive 2024 Path to EV Adoption Study suggests a second wave of EV Considerers is preparing to enter the market. The study projects EV consideration will notably increase in three to five years, with 54% of current Skeptics expected to become active EV Considerers. Within 10 years, 80% of today's Skeptics will have become EV Considerers. By that time, most vehicle shoppers – looking at both new and used vehicles – will be actively considering an electric vehicle.

As Skeptics slowly become Considerers, overall EV consideration in the U.S. is forecast to increase dramatically. Currently, only 45% of consumers in market for a vehicle within the next 12 months say they are considering an EV, down from last year when 51% of in-market shoppers were looking at EV options. In the 2026-to-2028 timeframe, research suggests that 79% of vehicle shoppers (both new and used) will be considering an electric vehicle. By 2033, 90% of all vehicle shoppers will have electric vehicles on their lists.

The expected shift is being driven largely by expectations for significant technological advancements and a notable improvement in the available EV charging infrastructure. Many current-market Skeptics are waiting for better range, longer battery life, improved reliability and overall technological advancements. Current-day Considerers often note "price" as the top barrier holding them back from purchase. On the other hand, Skeptics consider the "lack of charging stations" the top barrier.

Demographics Shift as EVs Become More Mainstream
The new research from Cox Automotive also suggests that the EV market is slowly becoming more mainstream. While current EV ownership is heavily tilted toward luxury and high-earning households, the study shows the EV market is casting a wider net, attracting Gen Z, multicultural and less-affluent shoppers. The market is also seeing a notable uptick in used EV consideration. In 2021, 62% of EV Considerers were looking at used EVs. Today, 77% are considering used electric vehicles.

While Tesla continues to be far and away the most considered EV maker, many mainstream brands are making inroads. The new report shows that electric vehicles from Toyota, Hyundai and Kia have experienced notable increases in awareness and consideration since 2021. Meanwhile, Ford continues to be the most-considered EV maker not named Tesla. Still, apart from Tesla, a majority of vehicle shoppers are not even aware of EV offerings from other major automakers, the Cox Automotive study reveals, suggesting many shoppers are not researching EV products. For example, only 33% of vehicle shoppers – consumers in market for a product – have awareness of EV offerings from Nissan, a brand that helped pioneer EV sales in the U.S. market.

A More Balanced Partnership Between Dealers and Automakers
The new study from Cox Automotive also documents the improving relationship between dealers and automakers when it comes to selling and servicing EVs, a partnership that has become more strategic and balanced since 2019.

Dealerships report that they have enjoyed increased support in marketing, sales and service since 2019 but express a need for additional resources beyond training in selling EVs. More EV incentives are high on their list, as are programs like free maintenance and funds for additional advertising. Dealers also feel the urgency to sell: 65% of dealers report feeling pressure from their automakers to hit EV sales targets, up from 39% in 2019. Luxury dealers are more likely to feel higher pressure.

Still, the research also demonstrates the level of commitment that dealers have to selling EVs. Among franchised dealers, 86% say they are likely or somewhat likely to continue making investments required by the automakers. With this commitment to continue investing in EV infrastructure, dealers are signaling a collaborative effort to accelerate EV adoption.

Background and Methodology
The 2024 Path to EV Adoption Study by Cox Automotive assessed the current landscape and prospects of electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the United States. The research was undertaken in Q1 2024 and included a nationally representative sample of 2,557 American vehicle shoppers and 526 dealers to understand their perceptions, preferences, and attitudes toward electric vehicles. The methodology was structured to capture a broad spectrum of demographic variables, including age, income, geographic location, and current vehicle ownership, to ensure the findings accurately reflect the diverse landscape of the American consumer base.

Learn More
The findings from the 2024 Path to EV Adoption Study provide a comprehensive overview of the current state and future trajectory of EV adoption, offering valuable insights for consumers, dealers, and automakers alike as they navigate the transition toward a more sustainable automotive ecosystem. Download the study summary and an infographic.

About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive is the world's largest automotive services and technology provider. Fueled by the largest breadth of first-party data fed by 2.3 billion online interactions a year, Cox Automotive tailors leading solutions for car shoppers, auto manufacturers, dealers, lenders and fleets. The company has 29,000+ employees on five continents and a portfolio of industry-leading brands that include Autotrader®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, vAuto®, Dealertrack®, NextGear Capital™, CentralDispatch® and FleetNet America®. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately owned, Atlanta-based company with $22 billion in annual revenue. Visit or connect via @CoxAutomotive on X, CoxAutoInc on Facebook or Cox-Automotive-Inc on LinkedIn.