With gas prices skyrocketing, Google search interest for electric vehicles broke records
As gas prices soared this month and the pain at the pump intensified, consumers reacted by looking for more fuel-efficient vehicle options – and possibly dreaming. According to Google Trends, the popularity of web search among electric vehicles in the US reached a record high in March.
While high gas prices are definitely one of the reasons, Jesse Toprak, chief auto analyst at Autonomy, an EV subscription company, said the new interest has been driven by a combination of things.
“This is a direct reaction to higher gas prices, and in addition, we are seeing more and more EV models for consumers to choose from,” Toprak told CNN. “So I would say it’s a function, mainly of high gas prices, but also the availability of new EV products on the market.”
But that doesn’t mean people are buying.
Many people are looking for the price and benefits of this nice looking, electric car. EVs are still prohibitively expensive for many US homes. And instead of spending more money up front, many customers hold on to their existing vehicles as long as they last.
Still, Toprak said Google Trends search is a great solution to consumer demand and matches what his company has been seeing in recent weeks: an increase in inquiries and reservations for electric cars.
“We’re also seeing more customers want to educate themselves, even if they’re on the sidelines so far,” Toprak said. “Is this a good option for me?”
In addition to rising gas prices and growing concerns about the changing climate, marketing has also played a major role in the recent rise in interest rates, said Melinda Hanson, co-founder of strategy firm Electric Avenue. During the recent Super Bowl, for example, major automakers, including BMW and General Motors, have been bombarded with advertisements for snazy electric vehicles.
“Fluctuations in fuel prices, massive increased advertising from car companies around electric vehicles have really generated more interest,” Hanson told CNN. “It’s really the first step; people want to go a long way in introducing electric vehicles. It’s good that we’re exploring and hopefully it will help educate and convince people that this is a good idea.”
It’s not just EVs; According to Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, people are generally looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid and compact cars, of which sales have increased earlier this year.
The problem, Krebs said, is that EV supplies are currently limited, which many people searching for electric vehicles on Google may have found. Just as a combustible car needs gasoline, an electric car needs a battery; But due to supply chain problems, the supply of materials needed to make those batteries, including lithium, nickel and cobalt, is low.
“Inventories are scarce and many new models coming out have been reserved and sold,” Krebs told CNN.
“We thought it would be better by the end of this year, but we didn’t have a war on the agenda,” she added. “So we have lowered our forecast for this year, because we thought supply would be better, but there are a lot of disruptions in the supply chain right now.”
Given the rapid pace of the climate crisis, Toprak said he hopes the record price of gas will give consumers “extra push and extra motivation” to switch to EVs so that change can happen much faster than expected.
But there is another option to switch to electric and avoid that annoying supply-chain problem – the electric bicycle.
Hanson, who owns an electric bike, said: “People think that in every journey they travel far beyond what they actually do.” “I think electric bikes can be a gateway drug to electric traffic in general. And I think supply chain issues are less dramatic than those electric cars.”
As more people plug in “electric cars” into their Google searches, Hanson hopes consumers will also learn the benefits of having an electric bike along the way.
“From a climate perspective, from a public health perspective, from a energy security perspective, that means – there are a lot of benefits to transitioning,” she said. “I definitely hope it’s something that can push it to the edge.”