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A new AAA survey shows that 20 percent — or 50 million Americans — will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent in 2017.

“Electric cars have lower-than-average ownership costs, increased driving ranges and the latest advanced safety features,” said Michelle Donati, spokesman for AAA Montana. “AAA sees a strong future for electric cars, and consumers are showing that they agree.”

While range is important to most (87 percent) electric and hybrid vehicle shoppers, AAA found that it is not the only consideration. Reliability is king with nine-in-ten (92 percent) of those likely to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle stating it is important when evaluating which car to buy. Electric and hybrid car shoppers are also prioritizing crash ratings, cost, acceleration and handling and advanced safety technology such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance. 

The AAA survey also found:

* Americans who are likely to buy an electric vehicle would do so out of concern for the environment (80 percent), lower long-term costs (67 percent), cutting edge technology (54 percent) and access to the carpool lane (35 percent).

 * Women (90 percent) are more likely to buy an electric vehicle out of concern for the environment over men (68 percent). 

* Three in 10 adults (31 percent) say they are likely to buy a hybrid vehicle the next time they are in the market for a new or used vehicle. This level of interest is unchanged form 2017.

AAA’s survey found that “range anxiety” is beginning to ease. Among those unsure or unwilling to choose an electric vehicle for their next car:

* 63 percent (down 9 percent from 2017) cited not enough places to charge as a detractor.

 * 58 percent (down 15 percent from 2017) expressed concern over running out of charge while driving.

 * Not surprisingly, range anxiety is less of a concern for millennials (48 percent) than Generation X or Baby Boomers (64 percent and 66 percent, respectively).

Although Americans may be more eager to buy an electric vehicle, having the right infrastructure will be critical to its widespread adoption. In 2018, the availability of charging stations had grown to more than 16,000 in the United States and, although anxiety over range has reduced, AAA’s survey found consumer expectation for charging time while on the road may not align with reality. Seven-in-ten (68 percent) Americans feel that while out driving, a charging time of no more than 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to wait.

“Today’s drivers are accustomed to a quick fill up at the corner gas station, but electric vehicle charging can sometimes take several hours,” Donati said. “With a little planning, electric vehicle owners can avoid a roadside inconvenience and, as technology improves, charging times will too.”