Car companies and dealers are so desperate to demystify electric cars that they'll let you drive one for a month before buying

  • The next wave of EV buyers have a lot of questions about what it means to go electric.

  • Automakers and dealers are trying to answer them with "drive before you buy" offers.

  • If you're interested in an EV but don't want to buy one, see if there's a way you can try it out.

Automakers and dealers are trying to speed up EV adoption in the US by giving customers electric cars to take home and drive for weeks or months at a time.

Hyundai launched Evolve+ in February, a program that lets the "EV curious" try driving an electric car for a flat monthly rate.

The subscription service (initially available in seven cities in six states) means customers pay $699 for a Kona electric and $800 for an Ioniq 5 for a month-to-month commitment. With the program, drivers can better understand what it might be like to own an EV, learn first-hand how charging works, and determine whether a 250-mile range is adequate for lifestyle.

Some dealers are offering similar programs.

Brad Sowers, president at Jim Butler Auto Group in Fenton, Missouri, offers DriveBLACKTIE, a way to help customers try an EV without a major commitment.

"We'll put together a subscription for 30 days for you to try it," Sowers said. "How else are you going to know if it fits in your lifestyle?"

Why subscriptions could rev up EV adoption

A lot of would-be EV buyers haven't yet had exposure to the cars — and data from J.D. Power suggests that riding in one makes a huge difference.

Only 11% of consumers who had no experience with EVs said they were "very likely" to consider one, per the J.D. Power study. That rose to 24% for those who had been a passenger in an EV, and 34% among those who had driven electric.

Subscriptions aren't a new concept for the industry and haven't always been successful. But automakers and dealers are desperate to speed up EV adoption, as they spend trillions of dollars to develop and launch new electric cars.

EV adoption in the US has been slower than elsewhere across the globe due to a lack of public charging infrastructure, inventory availability, cost, and more. EVs only made up about 7% of new car sales here in 2022, per the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

EV education is also a big hurdle to adoption.

About 30% of "EV rejecters" said their disinterest was due to a lack of information about incentives, the total cost of ownership, resale value, and more, per J.D. Power's 2022 EV consideration study.

Allowing drivers to take home EVs and try them out could help increase education and familiarity with electric cars, with relatively little effort on the part of automakers and dealers.

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