Majority of Americans will pay more for electric vehicles made in U.S., survey finds

EPIC/AP-NORC poll reports climate change policy important for most Americans ahead of 2024 election

Americans continue to be open to purchasing electric vehicles, but are deterred by cost, range, charging capacity, and a lack of charging stations, according to a new survey from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Additionally, when given the option, most Americans report they would purchase a more expensive American-made vehicle over a cheaper one made in China.

Similar to 2023, about 6 in 10 Americans cite saving money on gas and vehicle maintenance as reasons to purchase an electric vehicle, along with reducing their personal impact on climate change. Most Americans across the political spectrum view climate change and energy policies as important issues in the 2024 election.

“Climate issues have topped the agenda for Democrats for a number of years, but this poll suggests generational change may increase the salience among Republicans as well,” said Jennifer Benz, deputy director of the AP-NORC Center. “Compared to older Republicans, the younger generation of the party is more likely to believe climate change is happening, that human factors are causing it, and to prioritize a clean energy industry in the U.S.”

Flipping the electric switch

Researchers found that reducing personal impact on climate change is a reason for purchasing an electric vehicle for 66% of adults. Financial considerations such as saving money on gas, saving money on vehicle maintenance, or receiving a tax break are also top factors.

The survey also found that groups more likely to already own an electric vehicle—such as younger and wealthier Americans, as well as those who say climate change is happening—are also more likely to consider purchasing an electric vehicle in the future.

However, cost and concerns about range and charge time top the list of reasons Americans would not purchase one. Despite recent investments in electric vehicle charging stations, two-thirds of Americans report they don’t know of charging stations nearby, regardless of where they live.

Attitudes around climate change

Similar to past years, the majority of Americans believe that climate change is happening, and that it’s caused mostly or entirely by human activity. There continues to be a partisan divide, with 93% of Democrats believing that climate change is happening compared to the 62% of Republicans. And among those who do say it’s happening, 67% of Democrats and 34% of Republicans say that it’s caused mostly or entirely by humans. Adults who have experienced extreme weather in their communities in the past year are also more likely to believe in climate change.

When it comes to specific climate and energy policies, more than half of Americans support regulations to limit emissions from power plants and vehicles and funding to states to help communities adapt. Democrats overwhelmingly support these policies, while the majority of Republicans—and to a lesser extent independents—don’t.

Only 43% of Americans find it important for the next president to protect and expand U.S fossil fuel development, while about 6 in 10 say they would support the building of wind turbines and solar farms in their communities.

While most Americans are unwilling to pay a monthly carbon fee on their energy use, more than half say they would support a tax that companies would pay on the carbon they emit—including about three-quarters of Democrats, half of independents and 40% of Republicans.

This attitude is reflected on who Americans believe should bear the responsibility for climate change.  Just 41% say individuals have a lot of responsibility, while corporations (62%) and the federal government (59%) bear the greatest responsibility.

Eighty-four percent of Democrats rank climate change policy as an important factor to their vote in the 2024 presidential election compared with 43% of Republicans. When it comes to energy policy, majorities of both parties say it is an important factor to their vote.

Survey was conducted by staff from NORC at the University of Chicago, The Associated Press and EPIC.

—Adapted from stories that originally appeared on the EPIC and NORC websites.