Consumers Shift Auto Preferences in Wake of Fuel Shortage

When the Colonial Pipeline operator was hacked in early May, the disruption was swift and painful. Long lines, reminiscent of the 1970’s during the oil embargo, were seen in cities and towns up and down the East Coast.

We wanted to see if this crisis made people think twice about their next car purchase. So we fielded a national poll of more than 500 adults in the United States and asked them.

A large majority (70 percent) of consumers told us they are worried about future disruptions to the fuel supply chain in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack. Importantly, 35 percent of them are likely to buy an electric vehicle (EV) as a result.

Nearly every respondent (85 percent) was aware of the fuel shortage, although only 33 percent said they had been impacted personally by it. Regardless, 22 percent said they are “likely”, and 13 percent say they are “very likely”, to consider purchasing an EV as a result of the disruption.

When you own an EV, your gas station is your house and the pumps never run dry.  There’s no doubt the crisis is spurring a significant number of consumers to consider an EV for their next vehicle and giving EV manufacturers an unexpected competitive advantage.

The timing of this crisis comes amidst overall consumer interest in EVs, and with this week’s launch of the first-ever Electric Ford F-150, some are saying that EVs time has come. Time will tell of course, but sometimes external factors such as a pipeline hack can be an inflection point for massive change.