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Enhancing Electric Vehicle Affordability and the Driver Experience

September 14, 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • EV affordability goes beyond the purchasing process. Owners are finding savings by ditching gas and reducing vehicle maintenance.
  • Even outside the auto industry, businesses throughout the Detroit Region and Michigan should continue advocating for EV tax credits and publicly dispelling EV myths.

The automotive industry is all in on electric vehicles (EVs), but many consumers still need to be convinced of the electrification transition. During the first 2023 Detroit Auto Show, Electric Vehicle Association President Elaine Borseth and Ford Motor Company Policy Strategist Chay English sat down with Consumer Reports Senior Policy Analyst Chris Harto to discuss how to make EVs more affordable for all consumers.

 Create the Opportunity for Affordability

In March 2023, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Glengariff Group, Inc. found that 18% of Michigan voters opposed to the EV transition are put off by vehicle prices, with many starting at $50,000. And according to Consumer Reports, 70% of EV sales are concentrated among just nine models under $40,000 with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credit.

According to Borseth, automakers and dealerships can improve affordability by continuing to build and advertise affordable models that qualify for IRA tax credits.

“I would love to see the Big Three make a commitment and follow through…really walk the walk and commit to having affordable EVs at every price range,” she said.

Consumers are not the only ones who can take advantage of the IRA tax credits – so can automakers and OEMs when building car parts and more. For example, English said Ford is taking advantage of the tax credits while making the EV batteries, arguably the most expensive part of an EV.

“Something that that we’ve been very strategic about taking full advantage of as we look to making these batteries and making these materials less expensive and overall making the vehicle more accessible [financially],” he said.

 Cost Savings Go Beyond the Dealership

EV affordability goes beyond the purchase and into ownership, with no trips to the gas pump and less upkeep.

“People forget that there are fewer parts in these cars, so there are fewer things that can go wrong,” English said. “Experience is the best teacher. Once you own it, then you see the cost savings.”

Borseth said overall, the transition is “very easy.” Still, she encourages automakers to look into expanding the charging network, as non-Tesla connectors seem more complicated to owners.

 How Everyone Can Be Better Advocates

The panel concluded with suggestions on how other non-automotive industry businesses can be stronger advocates for the electric transition, including:

  • Installing Level 2+ charging stations in commercial parking lots
  • Hosting EV car shows for owners to talk about their experiences
  • Advocating for more state and federal EV-related tax credits
  • Dispelling rumors like short battery life