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Keller: Why are consumers turning their backs on electric vehicles?

Car buyers are turning from EVs and back to gas-powered vehicles
Car buyers are turning from EVs and back to gas-powered vehicles 02:39

BOSTON - Right now there are more than 3 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in the United States, but it seems some owners are having a bit of buyer's regret.

A bombshell report on the global EV marketplace finds 46% of American EV drivers are so fed up with charging and mobility issues, they're ready to switch back to gas-powered vehicles.

Massachusetts consumers slow to embrace EVs   

The White House has been promoting electric vehicle use nationally. And Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey's environmental plan leans heavily on putting a million EVs on our roads by the end of this decade. But millions in spending on new charging stations and other EV initiatives has barely made a dent - just 66,000 EVs were registered here as of January 1.

"It's not happening at nearly the pace that we need to have to meet those goals," said Christian Milneil, editor-in-chief of the website Streetsblog Massachusetts, who noted EV sales here lag way behind Healey's targets and gas-powered vehicle use is trending up.

What will attract drivers to EVs?  

Good luck getting Beacon Hill to do more to push reluctant drivers toward EVs. "Lawmakers are much more reluctant to regulate consumers than they are to regulate big businesses like electric power," said MilNeil.

So, WBZ-TV asked Clifford Atiyeh, president of the New England Motor Press Association: if high gas prices, the palpable impacts of climate change, and millions and millions of dollars in government incentives and infrastructure investments won't get people into EVs, what will?

"People aren't stupid," he said. "They see their options; they've been educated about what cars they want; and right now, electric cars are, by and large, not meeting those needs for single-car families."

Atiyeh points out that the big automakers have backed off all their talk of switching to all-EV production, emphasizing hybrids and other brands that still use gas. The big question is: How much longer can we live with the environmental damage caused by internal combustion vehicles while waiting for consumers to fully adopt EVs?  

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