Ford Study Finds 42 Percent of Americans Think Electric Cars Still Need Gasoline

That's now how any of this works.

All-Electric F-150 Prototype
Ford

It'll probably come as no surprise to most folks that the general public doesn't know much about electric cars. In fact, the large majority are still trying to figure out what a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid even is. As a result, Ford Motor Company knows that if people don't understand EVs they will be considerably less to likely to consider one as their next car. For reasons obvious, this worries the automaker, especially as it wants upcoming electric models like the battery-powered F-150 to be welcomed and not shunned. 

To find out how tall of a mountain it has to climb, Ford surveyed people across the world's biggest car markets about the perceived capabilities and limitations of EVs, and published the results via Medium. Unfortunately, the results were disheartening to both automakers and Americans alike. Ford found that an embarrassing 42 percent of Americans believe electric cars, in spite of their name, still need to be filled up with gasoline to run—outside of the occasional prank.

An even larger proportion of Americans—67 percent—think that EVs can't tow to save their life, despite years of evidence to the contrary. The Tesla Model X, for example, has a 5,000-pound tow capacity, but has been used in PR stunts to tow loads as large as 143-ton Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Ford's own electric F-150 prototype tugged 10 railroad cars loaded with 42 F-150s together weighing around 625 tons, for nearly a quarter of a mile as part of a test you can watch in the video below.

Ford also found that 65 percent of people in the market for an all-wheel-drive car wouldn't consider an electric model, and that's in part because a good 80 percent of Americans think EVs don't work in extreme heat or cold. Most modern EVs, of course, feature battery conditioning systems that keep them in the right temperature range for maximum range or power, the latter of which is another point of ignorance for consumers. It even brings up sales data from Norway, where EVs make up the majority of new car sales despite their sub-zero weather.

Up to 90 percent of people think that electric cars are doomed to be as slow as their economy hybrid relatives like the Toyota Prius. Those who pay attention to the racing world, however, know that electric power is making something of a splash, with all-electric Formula E swelling in popularity, and the Volkswagen ID.R seizing course records almost everywhere it goes.

There's more to be said about what the public doesn't know about electric cars, but if you want to get ahead of the game, give our EV glossary a read.