2011 Nissan LEAF prototypeEnlarge Photo
According to a recent report by Nissan, most consumers signed up to buy the 2011 Nissan Leaf are already electric vehicle owners or hybrid drivers.
In short, early adopters are mainly enthusiasts who already know the ins and outs of driving electric.
But what about the general public?
We've sat down and come up with five questions we think Consumers will want to know before they stump up the cash for a new car powered by electric.
1. How do we refuel?
It's a simple question that's often overlooked with a simple answer. - You plug it in.
But let's examine how, why and when. Most consumers will want to know that they have somewhere to refuel at home, and perhaps somewhere to refuel outside the home.
While those who already drive electric and plug in vehicles will know that most recharging takes place at home, most ‘switchers' to electric will want the familiarity of the gas station experience - somewhere they can refuel if they need to, wherever they are.
Google Maps traffic - LAXEnlarge Photo
In everyday use, folks don't want to know an electric car will drive 100 miles per charge. They want to know if it will make the trips they regularly make.
Knowing if a car will make real-life, familiar trips from A to B to C will be more use to consumers than knowing how far it will go in optimum conditions at optimum speeds.
3. What is the true cost of ownership?
Regardless of the sticker price, most consumers want to know how much a car will cost on a weekly or monthly basis. Basic household budgets need to be able to account for the cost of any car. Electric vehicles aren't any different.
In response, lease schemes look like the favourite way to finance an expensive electric car. But any calculations and comparisons between gasoline and electric cars need to account for the cost of fuel as well as any finance or lease schemes.
The base model 2011 Nissan Leaf's outright purchase price is $32,780. That's considered expensive by most consumers. But examine the lease price of $349 a month with perhaps $30 of fuel costs, and it seems much more affordable.
4. How fast does it go?
It's the age-old question. Regardless of what fuels the car, consumers want to know how fast it will go, and how quickly it will get there. And they're unlikely to listen to an excuse telling them the car they're looking at is slow because it's green.
2011 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
But, social benefits such as free parking, HOV lane access and perhaps kudos of driving electric will help sway the wavering consumer to buy an EV.
If you haven’t already noticed, the questions we think consumers will ask about electric cars are exactly the same questions already asked of gasoline cars. In short, driving an EV is about so much more than just being environmentally responsible or a trend-setter. And the sooner car companies realize that, the better.