According to YouGov Global Automotive Profiles, a fifth (22%) of Americans would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car– a significant market share, even though buying a petrol vehicle (39%) is still the preferred option. Americans considering a hybrid are a similar % to EVs (23%).

But who are the Americans who are most keen on buying an EV?

Our data shows that this cohort is skewed towards younger: two in five are aged 18-34 (40%) compared to a third of all Americans who intend to buy cars in future (33% – excluding those who answered “don’t know” or “N/A”). Over a quarter of EV buyers are aged 35-49 – making them relatively even with the would-be car-buying population on 26% – and are least likely to be aged 50-64 (22% vs. 27%) or over 65 (11% vs. 14%).

And while all car buyers are more likely to be male – with nearly three in five (58%) being men compared to two in five (42%) being women – this is even more pronounced among EV buyers. Two-thirds are male compared to a third being female (68% vs. 32%).

Seven in ten electric car buyers want to help the environment

YouGov data also shows that Americans who intend to buy electric cars broadly share the priorities of anyone buying a new or used car. Overall, price is the most important factor for both groups: two-thirds of EV (67%) buyers and car buyers in general (66%) say they take it into consideration when choosing a car, with mileage ranking second for both groups (61% EV; 56% all) and space/size coming in third (54% vs. 51%).

Environmental imp is where they diverge: while a third (32%) of EV buyers say they take it into consideration, half as many car buyers overall say the same (16%).

When we narrow this down to the motivators of people who would consider buying an EV, however, seven in ten (70%) say their number one reason to purchase one of these vehicles is protecting the environment. All self-interested reasons to buy an electric car are some way behind: nearly three in five (58%) say lower running costs are a factor, nearly half cite the reduced cost of fuel (47%), while over a third say future-proofing makes them a potentially worthwhile investment (36%). Some three in ten (31%) say they enjoy how silent these vehicles are compared to their fossil fuel equivalents – more than the proportion who cite the design, brand, purchase price, or insurance costs (25% for each factor).

With a quarter also citing the unique features of electric cars (24%), a fifth saying they like using the latest technology (20%), and 15% saying that vehicles with internal combustion engines are on the way out, it’s clear that people consider buying electric cars for a range of reasons, but the environment is still front of mind for most consumers.

Automakers who are lacking the portfolio of EVs and perceived as environmentally unfriendly may not have long to catch up: a quarter of those considering buying an electric car plan to do so in the next year (25%) compared to 17% of the wider public – and a similar proportion plan to do so in the next 1-3 years (26% vs. 22%). EV adoption is picking up speed every year, and the automotive sector may have to speed up electrification transformation to keep up with the future car buyer’s demand in the US.

Learn more with YouGov Global Automotive Profiles.


Suzanna Mitrovich
Global Sector Head of Automotive, YouGov

Suzanna Mitrovich is an automotive industry expert, with vast experience of driving change in the automotive industry with data insights and analytics. She is passionate about supporting OEMs and emerging companies through the digital transformation taking place in the automotive and mobility sector. She has experience with working with teams across the world to deliver best solutions across the organizations including marketing, sales, aftersales and retail. She has received two bachelor degrees (BA & BSC) and is currently an MBA Candidate.