Automotive

Electric vehicle survey reveals consumer preferences

Electric vehicle survey reveal...
A 1912 advertisement for the Detroit Electric
A 1912 advertisement for the Detroit Electric
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The Chevrolet Volt
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The Chevrolet Volt
The Nissan Leaf
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The Nissan Leaf
The Ford Focus Electric
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The Ford Focus Electric
The Brabus Tesla Roadster
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The Brabus Tesla Roadster
A 1912 advertisement for the Detroit Electric
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A 1912 advertisement for the Detroit Electric
Tesla Roadster
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Tesla Roadster

Almost every day, we hear about advances in the development of practical electric cars. Those advances won’t mean much, however, if no one is buying the things. With that in mind, ZPryme Research and Consulting recently conducted a web-based survey of 1,046 men and women across the U.S., asking how they felt about various aspects of buying an EV (electric vehicle).

First of all, only 8.5 percent of respondents said they were very likely to buy an EV within the next two years, although 28.7 percent considered themselves somewhat likely. Of the remaining somewhat or very unlikely respondents, 25.8 percent said they were somewhat likely to buy an EV in the next five years.

Why get one?

The top reason for buying an EV would be the price of the vehicle, according to 66.8 percent of those surveyed, with fuel savings coming in as the number two reason, at 50.4 percent. Although it was not cited as a reason for buying an EV, 64.1 percent of respondents who were very or somewhat likely to purchase within the next two years said that environmental concerns were very important to them. Of those that were very or somewhat unlikely to buy, only 32.4 percent were very concerned about the environment.Of all the people surveyed, 31.1 percent said they would be willing to pay more for for an EV than for a conventional vehicle, with 12.6 percent saying that they would pay up to $5,000 more, and 5.2 percent stating they would pay $10,000 more.

The Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt

Range and charging time

Within the very to somewhat likely within two to five years group, 33.7 percent said that 400 miles (644 km) would be a sufficient range, while 33.3 percent were willing to settle for 300 miles (483 km). When it came to acceptable charge times, 32.1 percent indicated 4 hours, 18.1 percent indicated 6 hours, and 20.0 percent would wait for 8. If it were possible to pay a premium to charge their cars faster, 87.4 percent said they would opt for it. The ability to charge one’s EV at home is also a big deal, with 93.2 percent describing it as very important.

The Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf

What they would buy

As far as makes and models goes... well, people aren’t going to buy a car if they aren’t aware of its existence. When asked which EVs they had heard of, respondents listed the Chevrolet Volt (53.1 percent), Ford Focus EV (49.1 percent), Nissan Leaf (30.8 percent) and Tesla Roadster (16.8 percent) – brands such as BYD and ZAP sat somewhere under 5 percent. When it came to which automaker those surveyed would like to buy an EV from, five brands stood out: Ford (17.8 percent), Toyota (16.7 percent), Chevrolet (16.0 percent), Honda (12.6 percent) and Nissan (7.1 percent).

The Ford Focus Electric
The Ford Focus Electric

Regional differences

While there were no strong differences in how receptive people in different geographical quadrants were to EVs, the western states were the most welcoming, with 40.1 percent of respondents categorizing themselves as likely to buy an EV. The south and northeast U.S. came in next at 37.3 and 37 percent, respectively, with the midwest coming in lowest at 35.3 percent.

Tesla Roadster
Tesla Roadster

What needs to be done

At the end of its 71-page report on the results of the survey, ZPryme makes some predictions on what will need to happen in order for EVs to become widely accepted. For one thing, it suggests, the vehicles should be integrated with the Internet, wireless networks, telematics, and users’ smartphones. The "likely" group is apparently a techie bunch, and would be more interested in vehicles that take full advantage of current technologies.A Smart Grid that manages municipal power systems will also be essential, in order to avoid blown transformers and black-outs due to overloads from all those charging batteries. Likewise, a charging infrastructure will need to be put in place, allowing users plenty of opportunities to recharge in the field, but also at home. That charging also needs to be required less often, with the development of low-cost batteries that can go 250 to 350 miles (402 to 563 km) on one charge. The lower-cost batteries should help bring the total price of an EV down to that of a conventional vehicle, which is another challenge that reportedly must be met.

Finally, and not surprisingly, Zpryme suggests that “Consumer education is at the heart of EV adoption.” Regardless of what advances are made in EV connectivity, range, convenience and price, consumers still won’t purchase electric cars if they’re holding onto their old misconceptions.

32 comments
Facebook User
1046 people were questioned.. love surveys an statistics.. ./endsarcasm surely more than 1000 people could have been found.. an not just from the US. Part of the problems with EV\'s is they are new technology an no one knows whether EV\'s or some other form of engine will become standard. Are they really greener.. this is a question I find myself asking about a lot of new technology. Grid supplied power, doesn\'t seem that green to me. Batteries are not particularly green either. Heck apparently even solar panels produce more of a carbon footprint in production than you would save from the energy produced from the panel compared to coal power plants. just my random 2cents.
John Welsh
The paradox here is that the more educated consumers become about EVs (at least given current technology), the less attractive this alternative becomes - unless new misconceptions are displacing the old ones.
Dory Goldberger
No one seems to think about the environmental impact of the Batteries. Where are they made? Where does the ore come from? What are the environmental practices in those countries. How about if your in an accident and the LIon batteries are ruptured, it requires a Hazmat team to deal with the toxic elements. As far as the environmental impact the current electric and many hybrid cars will likely do more damage before they leave a show room floor than my 78 Mercedes 300D that gets 29MPG hwy and with simple care will continue to do for easily 500k miles ever will.
David Larson
there is a huge potential for city dwellers for these cars (like myself) but one BIG hurdle is that a large number of us must use \"street parking\" rather than garages. There is no way to plug in and charge up for us. random parking spots on the street won\'t allow for simple \"plug it in and charge\". For this group, a far more efficient hybrid is still the solution both for miles per gallon and reducing pollution footprint. Unless you\'re going to put public outlets at avery out door parking spot............ not.
Marc 1
@ Facebook user - time to update your knowledge - the anti solar lobby have been pedalling that payback garbage for years. A US government report has shown that the energy or carbon payback for a solar panel is somewhere between one and two and a half years depending on the type and construction of the panels (and that report is a few years old, so probably shorter again).
Mr Stiffy
Yeah the CURRENT issues of conversion effiency - coal - fire - steam - generator - transmission lines - transformers - battery charging - electric drive system. Vs. Air Fuel - piston - drive train. I\'d like to see a joule bomb energy value to match each fuel - and then see a defined units of energy in at the start of each energy conversion process - to units of energy being put into the rubber contact patch of the tyre. I\'d also like to see 100% plus renewable national grid supplies up and running. This is the world\'s \"Going to the moon\" challenge.
Kenny Creed
All the advancement in EV technologies will be a waste of time and money.....as long as EV\'s continue to be butt ugly.
sinan
@Facebook user, @Dory You\'d better do some research before throwing out those myths randomly (that OPEC would love to hear loud). First of all, \"solar panel as dirty as coal power plant\" is one of the silliest thing I\'ve ever heard. Secondly, rare earth that we use (that chinese use:) in batteries are not rare at all (nor more hazardous, dirtier than oil), quantities used insignificant compared to total weight of the batteries, nevertheless 97% of the production belongs to chinese because some smart guy 10 years ago said \"this IS what we should do!\". Today we (you included) consume all those batteries made in china. Next step EV batteries and EVs themselves. Unless we wake up of course, and, compete with some thing significant (not yet another petrol car that we baptize EV because the name is VOLT or AMPER:) As for the mileage you get from an EV (for equal quantity of energy put in to the batteries or into the tank) is 5 times the ICE car. I spare you the figures but if you are willing to know it\'s just a google away.
HenryFarkas
Since we\'re mentioning plug in hybrids in this article, the Chevy Volt designers missed a golden opportunity. The Volt is a primary electric drive car. The engine doesn\'t drive the wheels. All it does is recharge the battery. So the designers COULD HAVE put in an engine that would be much more fuel efficient even if it wasn\'t so good at driving the wheels such as a Stirling external combustion engine or a small Tesla turbine engine. But they missed the opportunity and put in a plain old four stroke gasoline engine. Normally, I try not to make fun of the business plan of a company that\'s doing well, but since the taxpayers had to bail out GM recently, I feel like that frees me up to bother them about missing a golden opportunity to actually make a true innovation.
tildejac
What I do not understand is why no one discusses the strategic impact. Using electricity would free us from send all our cash overseas. Electricity would turn energy into more of a resource that could be controlled from inside the USA. It is easier to clean up a few thousand power plants than try to clean up a few hundred million cars. We could use nuclear, coal, wind or other technologies interchangeably if cars are electric. As it is we are bleeding hundreds of billions of dollars and making our country weaker because we are slaves to oil. We fight wars because of oil.