About 20 percent of EV buyers return to traditional combustion vehicles

The federal government and many automakers want to push consumers away from combustion engine vehicles and towards electric vehicles. Electric vehicles still pose significant challenges to many consumers with the lack of available charging infrastructure and additional cost compared to traditional combustion-powered vehicles. New research has been published by Nature Energy that shows 20 percent, or one in five, who purchase an electric vehicle returned to gasoline-powered cars.

The researchers used a sample size of 4160 people, who all purchased an EV in California between 2012 and 2018. That means the data used is a few years old, and there have been significant advancements in the electric vehicle segment since then. Of those surveyed, 1840 buyers had decided what their next vehicle after the EV would be, and that number had decided to move back to a traditional vehicle.

Those most likely to switch from an electric vehicle to a traditional combustion vehicle were those who depended on the EV for their only means of transportation. People who lived in places where home charging was difficult also chose to abandon electric vehicles at a higher rate. EVs still cost more than comparable combustion vehicles making those with lower incomes unlikely to transition to electric cars or continue using them.

The charging infrastructure is a particular problem and is worse for some than others. Those who live in apartments or densely populated urban areas where there are no nearby chargers have no way to charge the vehicles. Many places of employment lack charging infrastructure as well, meaning there is nowhere for many people to charge an electric vehicle for the multiple hours required.

Interestingly, the research also found that women switched to gas-powered vehicles at higher rates than men after purchasing an EV. It's unclear why that may be. Women in the survey group may have purchased electric vehicles in larger numbers than men, but the demographics of the survey group are unknown.