According to a national survey by AAA, one in five drivers in the United States wants an electric vehicle.
The survey says 50 million American buyers will “likely” go for an electric car as their next purchase.
Does that hold true in Hampton Roads?
“It’s more of a West Coast thing,” said Antoine Bryant, a sales representative at the Pomoco Nissan of Hampton. “We don’t see too many electric cars on the East Coast.”
To help buyers in their search for a green vehicle, AAA has listed for 2018 its Top Green Vehicle Awards online.
“A first-time buyer may feel overwhelmed or confused by the differences between gas-powered, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric,” said Georjean Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Our evaluations are designed to help drivers select a safe, comfortable, and reliable vehicle – not just the most efficient one.”
Although the Nissan Leaf SL won a green award from AAA, Bryant said his dealership only sells “two or three” of the cars each year.
In Williamsburg, Priority Nissan is not licensed to sell new Leafs, business development director Randall Plaxa said, but the dealership has sold two or three used Leafs in the past year.
Plaxa also said he has nearly a dozen customers who regularly charge their Leafs at the dealership’s charging stations.
He said a market like Williamsburg is well-suited for electric cars because of the many intersections and the stop-and-go nature of the region’s roads.
“Every time you stop this car [Leaf] and every time this car decelerates, that negative kinetic energy recharges the car,” Plaxa said. “If you’re going down to Colonial Williamsburg and then Harris Teeter, it’s go-stop, go-stop, go-stop.”
Similarly, the Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier, which also won a green vehicle award from AAA, hasn’t been selling well in Hampton Roads.
“Locally, electric cars aren’t flying off the shelves,” said Daniel McGinest, a sales representative from Priority Chevrolet in Newport News. “We don’t even have one in our lot right now.”
McGinest said they usually keep one Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier in their lot at a time.
Plaxa said that no matter how few electric vehicles can be seen around town today, he believes rising gas prices and the convenience of charging at home will pave the way for more motorists to embrace electric vehicles.
“When America catches onto this, and how to get out of their daily routine, it is the future,” he said.
WYDaily staff writer Andrew Harris contributed to this report.