Multinational automakers are investing huge sums into the development of electric and hybrid vehicles, but it appears American consumers are far less open to the new technology than their counterparts in other major markets.

OC&C Strategy Consultants (OC&C) revealed that just 53% of US consumers said they would consider buying an EV/hybrid compared with 69% of UK consumers, 77% of French consumers and a full 94% of Chinese potential car-buyers.

OS&C based its headline finding after conducting a global survey of 10,000 consumers – 2,000 each in the US, China, France, Germany and the UK – as the motor industry and policymakers come under increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions.

Ride-hailing, robo-taxis and shared car services have all been proposed as ways to help meet climate change targets, but the survey showed the industry has a long way to go to persuade US consumers, who have a strong affinity with ownership of their own car.

Some 84% of US respondents said having their own car is “essential to getting around”, the highest proportion among the five countries surveyed, while two-thirds (64%) said they expect to own their own car in the future.

Hostility to car-sharing and short-term rentals, which is shared in European markets, is based largely on convenience. Western consumers said they want a vehicle “when and where they need it” and that it’s “too much of a hassle” to pick up a vehicle.

In addition, nearly 70% of US and European consumers would not trust an autonomous vehicle, although 72% of Chinese consumers said they would trust one. A similar proportion of Chinese consumers (74%) also said they are likely to buy an EV/hybrid as their next purchase.

“America remains the spiritual home of the individually owned automobile and the open road, with few willing to adapt to innovation,” said Nicholas Farhi, a partner at OC&C.

“Dwindling incentives and static or loosening emission standards have failed to push more Americans to consider electric vehicles,” he added.

“While the evolution of the way we transport people and goods is a key pillar in the race to decarbonise transportation, the younger generation in the US are constrained by their finances in purchasing greener EV and hybrid vehicles.”

Sourced from OC&C; additional content by WARC staff