A majority of Americans do not support incentives for purchasing electric vehicles or expanding natural gas exports, according to a new poll.

The University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research surveyed the public’s views on multiple energy policies and climate change. It found that although Americans generally back cutting emissions and expanding clean energy, they don’t always support specific policies similar to those offered by the Biden administration.

Many Americans also remain unwilling to switch to electric vehicles due to range anxiety and perceptions of charging availability and vehicle prices.

Approximately two-thirds of U.S. adults are unaware of any nearby public EV charging stations, for example.

The lack of awareness on charging stations, “along with cost, range, and charging time, are the top barriers keeping Americans from purchasing an EV,” said Vicki Ekstrom High, senior communications director at the Energy Policy Institute, in an email.

Conversely, respondents said saving money on gasoline was the biggest motivator for buying EVs, followed by reducing the impacts of climate change.

Overall, less than half of U.S. adults — or 41 percent — said they are likely to purchase an EV. The numbers varied by age, geography and political party, with Democrats and individuals under the age of 45 more likely to buy EVs than Republicans or residents of rural areas.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they support incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.

The poll also found that most Americans are not interested in purchasing Chinese EVs, even if the cars are as much as $5,000 cheaper than domestic models. The poll was conducted prior to the administration imposing higher tariffs on Chinese EVs last month.

The researchers did not compare U.S. adults’ views of EV charging availability with the reality of charging infrastructure. It’s unclear what percentage of survey respondents who were unaware of nearby charging stations actually live near them.

Sixty-four percent of Americans currently live within 2 miles of a public charging station, according to a report released last month by the Pew Research Center.

The disconnect is occurring largely because “EV charging is just a different model [from gas stations],” said Joel Levin, executive director of the nonprofit Plug In America, in a statement.

“EV drivers almost always find charging on their favorite charging app — not by signage,” Levin said. “So if you aren’t seeking charging using some kind of app on your phone, you probably won’t see it unless it is right under your nose, which creates this misconception among the non-EV drivers.”

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Public Opinion on Energy & Climate
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