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Business Management

Electric vehicle drivers are younger and richer than the rest of us

Admit it: EV drivers are easy to loathe. They glide silently by gas stations, where a gallon of regular currently exceeds $4 in places like the San Francisco Bay Area. They slide into their special charging spots at work or at the mall--assuming some insensitive jerk hasn't taken it (which is always a risk). They're saving the planet.

As you chug along in your globally-warming beater, which just ingested $50 of your hard-earned cash to fill its tank, you'd love to run down that Nissan Leaf that gets to drive in the carpool lane. Wouldn't you? EV drivers. Hate them.

And now there's another reason--actually, two: They're likely younger and richer than you.

Research firm Experian Automotive just released data indicating that nearly 21 percent of EV owners have average household incomes exceeding $175,000. Which goes a long way toward explaining how these drivers can afford a $50,000 Toyota RAV4 EV, or a Tesla Model S (which starts around $60,000--and that's for the low-end model). The upcoming BMW i3 is going to start at $41,350. Yes, there are less-expensive EVs--the aforementioned Nissan Leaf starts around $21,000--but if you want more range, you gotta pay up-front for a beefier battery.

These EV owners also skew young: 55 percent of them are between 36 and 55 years of age.

Damn kids.

By comparison, owners of hybrid vehicles are a little older: 45 percent are aged 56 years or more. They're not nearly as wealthy, either: Just 12 percent of them topped $175,000 in average household income.

"At first glance, one would imagine that consumers purchasing either a hybrid or electric vehicle would be nearly identical," said Melinda Zabritski, senior director for Experian Automotive, in a statement. "One possible reason for the disparity could be the growing popularity of the higher-end luxury electric models available," Zabritski surmised. In other words, the burgeoning cachet of the Tesla Model S gives wealthy people a chance to be ostentatiously virtuous.

Don't let these stats get you down. Even if you're not young, and not rich, you could fake it by getting a hybrid or EV when it comes off lease from one of these One Percenters. Then we can hate you, too.

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