Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: More than half of residents ‘not likely’ to buy EV

Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to phase out the sale of gas-powered vehicles — and to do it by 2035 — may run into a big problem with New Jersey residents for one simple reason: The majority does not want to buy them.

A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Monday — which mirrors what car dealerships have been saying for a while — found the majority of residents (56%) were against the new technology (even though they feel it will be good for the environment).

Here’s how residents answered a question: How likely are you to buy an electric vehicle?

  • Not at all likely: 35%
  • Not very likely: 21%
  • Somewhat likely: 23%
  • Very likely: 13%
  • Already have an EV: 3%

The biggest reason against an EV was the cost, the survey indicated, with 29% listing that as a key issue. Other concerns: Concern over how long and how often one needs to charge their car (12%), followed by a lack of infrastructure and charging stations (10%).

Not surprisingly, socioeconomic status played a role in the data, as the likelihood of considering an EV increased as household income increased. The same pattern appeared by educational attainment; likelihood increased as attainment increased.

Also not surprising: Political affiliation played a part in the responses.

Democrats are the only group in which more than half said they would be likely to buy an electric car (18% “very likely” and 34% “somewhat likely”), while independents were unlikely to buy one (21% “not very likely,” 37% “not at all likely”).

Republicans also were opposed to buying EVs, as 59% were “not at all likely” to buy an EV and another 22% said they were “not very likely.”

Jessica Roman, a research associate at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said the poll shows the interest in EVs is not growing.

“Despite both federal and state-level incentives in recent years to encourage electric vehicle purchases, few already have one, and the rest of New Jerseyans are split as to whether or not they want one — even in light of the new policy,” she said.

“The desire to own one may be a partisan issue, but the ability to comply can be a real economic issue for many New Jerseyans — or is at least perceived to be so.”

The results are from a statewide poll of 1,657 adults contacted through multiple modes, including by live interviewer on landline and cell phone, MMS text invitation to web, and the probability-based Rutgers-Eagleton/SSRS Garden State Panel from Dec. 13-23. The full sample has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.