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.

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The 2022 Audi Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron mark the fourth and fifth EVs Audi is bringing to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi isn't just adding two new E-Tron models to its U.S. portfolio. It's expanding its SUV lineup. The 2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron at the latest electric vehicles from the automaker.

The two new Q4s have all the muscle proportions and signature styling that has been made a hallmark of the Audi SUV stable in the past few years. The Q4 Sportback features a coupe-like roof style, which traditionally allows for less second-row headroom and cargo space, but an increase in fuel economy. The Q4 e-tron achieves a drag coefficient of 0.28, and the Q4 Sportback e-tron gets to an even lower figure, with a drag coefficient of 0.26, which is good when considered against the competition.

There's matrix design headlights with customizable daytime running light signatures. The driver can switch between their choice of four lighting options to put their favorite face forward. At the rear, animated functionality illuminates the taillamp when a driver approaches or leaves the vehicle.

2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

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Audi is offering the Q4 models in four exterior color options with S line and black optic exterior elements as available add-ons.

The Q4 has similar dimensions to the Q5 inside and out, according to the automaker, but has the advantage of having a flatter floor due to the lack of transmission tunnel. Audi brags that this allows for generous legroom for rear-seat passengers.

The interior of the SUVs features recycled materials and a number of small item storage solutions including water bottle holders and a customizable cargo area load floor.

Audi has designed the new vehicles to have driver-oriented cockpits with the 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen facing the driver. There's a freshly designed flat-top and bottom steering wheel with capacitive hands-on detection. A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster sits in front of the driver.

Surround view cameras, a head up display that features augmented reality, and a Sonos premium sound system are available. Sonos is a new partnership for the automaker.

2022 Audi Q4 Sportback E-Tron

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

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Audi estimates that the car has an output of 201 horsepower in its base model. The line-topping Q5 50 E-Tron Quattro and Q4 Sportback 50 E-Tron Quattro will offer two electric motors and all-wheel drive, delivering a maximum 295 horsepower.

As with on-demand four- or all-wheel drive, the two-motor system only uses the front motor when high power or a strong grip is needed. The rear motor is permanently excited.

Three-stage braking regeneration is selectable via the car's steering wheel paddles. Separately, drivers can choose between four different drive modes: Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual.

Each Q4 comes with a 77-kilowatt-hour battery (net; 82 kilowatt-hour gross). The battery can charge at up to 125 kilowatts on a fast-charger. Preliminary manufacturer's estimated range based on approximation of EPA test cycles for a full charge is approximately 250 miles on the Q4 40 E-Tron.

Adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, side and lane assist, automatic high beams, and traffic jam assist are offered on the vehicle.

Audi plans to have more fully electric models on sale in the U.S. than any other luxury brand by the end of 2021. The Q4 E-Tron is set to start at under $45,000. More pricing details are expected to be announced ahead of the car's on-sale date later this year.

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The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is one of the Hyundai Santa Cruz's biggest rivals..

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz faces stiff competition from many vehicles that are already on the market and a few that are coming down the road. Part of figuring out what its biggest competition is, is figuring out exactly what type of vehicle it is.

Once you've done that, the deciphering gets a bit easier, but it isn't apple to apples. There's really no truck quite like it on the market today.

Subaru Outback

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Exterior trail driving Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The utility of the rear space afforded by a wagon like the Subaru Outback isn't anything to sniff at. Make the cargo area a bed and you'll see why nostalgia plays long and hard for the Subaru Baja. The Outback and the Santa Cruz share many similar technologies, including all-wheel drive, but the Outback has something the Santa Cruz does not, a passionate built-in fan base.

Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport rooftop tent Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Getting to the trailhead, then taking your car with you is something that the Ford Bronco Sport excels at. The surprisingly capable compact SUV delivers the capability adventurers are looking for, innovations overlanders love, and smooth ride over rough pavement.

Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The freshly redesigned Nissan Pathfinder was meant to be more rugged. It also has three rows of seating (to the Santa Cruz's two) and seats eight, something you usually only find in full-size SUVs. Nissan has changed out the CVT for a nine-speed automatic transmission in this new generation, upping the appeal of the already-popular midsize family hauler.

Honda Ridgeline

2021 Honda Ridgeline Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Ridgeline shares most of its interior with the Pilot but has unique tech like an in-bed speaker system. It's trunk was no doubt an inspiration for Hyundai designers. What makes the Honda so sellable is its available all-wheel drive and overall comfort - two things that the Santa Cruz has as well.

Subaru Crosstrek

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

With its two engine options, standard all-wheel drive, and gobs of cargo space, the Subaru Crosstrek is primed for use in settings urban, suburban, and beyond. It's easily modified for more rugged endeavors with popular enhancements including a lift, knobby tires, a roof rack, and a brush guard. Subaru doesn't make a Wilderness version of the Crosstrek yet, but it's safe to assume that one is coming.

Ford Maverick

What is the Ford Maverick? Well, officially we're still in wait-and-see mode, but there's one thing for sure, Ford views the Santa Cruz as Maverick competition if for no other reason than it's a compact pickup truck.

While these five vehicles are some of the most obvious competitors, a solid list of aftermarket accessories could easily make the Santa Cruz even more competitive.

Hyundai has let it be known that they'd be into developing a more rugged version of the Santa Cruz if demand is there. What could that include? Take a look at what is on the Subaru Outback Wilderness for a good example of what upgraded off-road capability could look like. There's also some chatter about making an "N" version of the truck.

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