Electric Vehicles

Ford Trend Report: Over one-third of people have no interest in electric vehicles

Automakers are betting big on electric vehicles but a large percent of the global population has no interest in them.

Photo by Getty Images

Numerous automakers are making a big push toward electric vehicles and electrified powertrains. Electric vehicles run solely on battery power while electrified powertrains are hybrids that use gasoline and electric battery power to achieve maximum fuel efficiency.

The 2020 Looking Further with Ford Trends Report reveals that automakers have a long way to go in convincing the buying public that electric vehicles what they should be buying, despite all of the hype surrounding them.

Mercedes-Benz EQC electric battery SUV Automakers are pushing hard for customers to adopt electric vehicles. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

To develop the results of the Report, Harris insights & Analytics polled 13,003 adults ages 18 years and older from 14 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. Respondents from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were required to be nationals of their respective countries. All fieldwork took place between November 8 and November 16, 2019.

One section of the Ford report, The Green Paradox, deals specifically with so-called eco-friendly solutions to everyday life. While 78 percent of respondents agreed that they're actively changing their behavior "to help in the fight against climate change", 66 percent of Gen Z respondents said that the changes felt like an inconvenience when they first made them and 64 percent of those not changing their habits reported that they don't think it would make a difference even if they did. Generation Z is the population that follows millennials, with those in the group being born in the mid- to late-1990s.

Respondents were idealists, saying that many of the key behaviors that they believe people should be doing today are not ones that they are doing themselves. Sixty-three percent view carpooling or taking public transportation as something they should do but just 50 percent actually partake. The difference is even greater for driving electric vehicles. Fifty-six percent say that people should drive EVs but just 17 percent do.

Passengers rush toward a New Jersey Transit trains platform during rusPenn Station New York City NYC rush hour Just 50 percent of those surveyed globally take public transportation. Photo by Getty Images

This finding isn't surprising. According to J.D. Power's Drive Green 2020: More Hope Than Reality? report, "By 2020, global passenger-vehicle sales are expected to reach 70.9 million units, of which 5.2 million units (7.3% of the total) will feature some type of battery-powered configuration."

This is despite many public initiatives that have pressed buyers to make 30 percent or more of the new vehicles purchased in the U.S. EVs. It's worth noting that the three best-selling vehicles in the country are trucks, of which there are no mass-produced EV options.

Why aren't customers buying trucks? This could be for any number of reasons, including range anxiety, length of time to recharge, availability of charging stations, and cost (MSRPs are generally much higher for electric vehicles). According to the report,

J.D. Power research shows that US consumers' interest in alternative powertrains drops considerably when they are advised of the price premium associated with the purchase of an HEV or BEV. For example, while 61% of consumers surveyed said they were interested in purchasing a hybrid vehicle, only 30% said they were still interested when they learned the price would be US $5,000 more than that of a comparable ICE-powered vehicle. Additionally, 17% of consumers surveyed initially said they were interested in buying a BEV, but this proportion dropped to 5% after they were advised that the price would be US $15,000 higher than a traditional ICE-powered vehicle.

Ford's survey revealed that 72 percent of adults agreed that the global EV charging infrastructure was a primary concern for them.

However, despite all the the hype, many people are telling EVs that they're just not that into them. Thirty-six percent of men and 44 percent of women have no interest in electric vehicles. Further, 40 percent of men and 52 percent of women say that they don't understand the benefits of EV ownership.

These figures come at a pivotal time for the automotive industry. Automakers are investing heavily into a battery electric vehicle (BEV) future. The Volkswagen Group is at the forefront with billion-dollar investments coming down the pipeline for infrastructure, factory, and platform modifications preparing for an all-electric future.

2020 Ford Mustang Mach-E Ford's Mustang Mach-E made a big splash when it debuted in November.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

However, recent BEV sales have been slow. The Audi e-Tron isn't making as big of a splash as many enthusiasts hoped and Mercedes-Benz has recently pushed back the launch of its new EQC electric SUV another year. Tesla sales remain strong when compared to other BEVs. Ford's 2021 Mustang Mach-E was met with near-universal praise when it debuted in November but sales figures have yet to be released.

None of these statistics, however, take into account the dirty practice of mining for the materials in electric vehicles, nor the human cost. Many mines exploit child labor. Eighty-four percent of Ford survey respondents said that they would stop doing business with a company that "was exploiting labor (e.g. forced labor, child labor).

As the timelines inch closer for automakers to make good on their EV product debuts, customers will be forced to make a crucial buying decision. Whether or not the decision they make is the one forced on them or the one they truly want has yet to be seen.

Ford is utilizing VR technology to train technicians.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford dealership service technicians will soon be training to service and maintain the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E without having to get their hands on a mode thanks to new virtual reality training developed in partnership with Bosch. Other automakers, including Porsche, use this type of technology.

"Technicians will be immersed in a simulated and gamified world, meaning they won't need to rely on actual Mustang Mach-E vehicles to learn about its components, including the electric SUV's new high-voltage system," said Dave Johnson, director of Ford service engineering operations. "This new virtual reality training tool allows technicians to understand the components and steps required to service these high-voltage systems, then confidently perform diagnostics and maintenance."

While traditional service such as a tire change or headlamp replacement are relatively straightforward, technicians now have to deal with the Mustang Mach-E's high-voltage battery system.

According to Ford, the training goes something like this: "A technician will learn how to diagnose and perform service related to the vehicle's high-voltage system wearing the virtual reality headset. This includes tasks such as removal and installation of the main battery as well as service and maintenance on the battery pack itself."

The system uses an Oculus Quest virtual reality headset from Facebook.

That's just the beginning. Bosch will develop extensions to the training program that utilize the same technology that will help them learn how to repair other parts of the vehicle.

"The virtual reality training solution is about new technology that builds efficiency," said Geoff Mee, director of operations for Bosch. "By improving the diagnostic process, technicians are able to perform maintenance and make repairs faster and more easily."

Bosch's version of the technology was proven in 2019 using market testing with instructors, technicians and college students. Ford is the first automaker to use this particular technology and has indicated that the Mustang Mach-E is the first of many vehicles the VR system will be utilized on.

Shrimp cocktail anyone? Ford is showing off the capabilities of its front trunk with an ... interesting display.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There's tailgating and then there's tailgating. Ford has taken the burgers, beer, chips, and dips game a step further by proposing 2021 Mustang Mach-E owners use their new electric vehicle's front trunk (frunk) to store enough shrimp cocktail to feed a small army (with lemons, natch).

To be completely clear, it is possible. Instead of having an internal combustion engine and all the parts that are needed to make that run up in front of the driver under the hood, the Mustang Mach-E, like Teslas before it, has a storage area that can be used for a variety of things.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Ford says that 1,000 chicken wings fit in the Mustang Mach-E's front trunk.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The space is a 4.8-cubic-foot plastic bin, which is equivalent to a 36-gallon cooler. That's about the same size as the Yeti Tundra 35.

In addition to the frunk, the model has performance-focused features, which were sussed out during and engineering process when Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett tasked the R&D team with making the Mustang Mach-E more exciting than it was originally intended to be.

If shrimp isn't up your ally, Ford would like to suggest perhaps you fill the space with buffalo wings (they say 1,000 fit) or soda.

The point is, that you can do it when you own a Mustang Mach-E. However, as mothers all around the country say, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

The Mustang Mach-E enters the market when many car companies are changing over to selling EVs yet the automaker's own survey showed that over one-third of the population has no interest in electric vehicles.

AutomotiveMap's Chad Kirchner has ridden in the new crossover but was not able to secure the time with the model needed to fill the frunk with any culinary delights.

Deliveries of the electric SUV begin late 2020. Reserve the Mustang Mach-E to secure yours for next season.