Less Than Half Of U.S. Shoppers Want EVs To Take Over: Discuss

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Accenture 2011 survey, 'Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Changing Perceptions, Hedging Bets'

Accenture 2011 survey, 'Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Changing Perceptions, Hedging Bets'

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If you plan to shop for a new car this year, there will be a range of plug-in hybrids and EVs competing for your attention. But according to a new survey, only about 30% of you feel comfortable considering them -- and some of you are downright offended by their presence.

The news comes from consulting firm (and former Tiger Woods employer) Accenture, which recently issued a report entitled, Plug-in electric vehicles: Changing perceptions, hedging bets. It's a compilation of several thousand surveys conducted with consumers around the world, gauging their understanding of electric vehicles and the likelihood that they'll purchase one in the near future.

Over the course of its work, Accenture discovered four "themes" running through the survey data:

1. On average, consumers are curious about electric vehicles (though there are exceptions in certain locations and age groups).

2. Although electric vehicles generally cost more than their conventional-engined equivalents, upfront cost isn't the only factor influencing consumers' purchasing decisions.

3. Consumers are far more interested in plug-in hybrids than full EVs.

4. Charging preferences and habits could prove challenging to the infrastructure.

But then, if you're a regular reader at GreenCarReports, you already knew most of that. And so, in the interest of making your Tuesday a little easier, we've dug deeper into Accenture's report and pulled out the more salient bits. Here are a few of what we'd call the "high points":

• 70% of consumers don't understand electric vehicles (plug-in hybrids or full EVs) well enough to consider them for their next purchase.

• Consumers in China, U.S., Sweden, Holland, and the U.K. understand electric vehicles than elsewhere -- though even in China, where shoppers seemed most-informed, only 44% said they felt confident in their understanding of the technology.

• 58% of consumers are in favor of electric vehicles replacing conventional cars over time, with only 13% are staunchly opposed. Interestingly, in China, the figure was 88%, while the U.S. rang in at just 48%.

• An impressive 60% of shoppers who plan to buy a new car within the next decade intend to look at electric options. In China, that figure was 95%, while in the U.S., 67%. Holland -- which we in America tend to consider pretty green-minded -- only registered 41%.

• Logistically, the most important electric vehicle considerations for consumers are the ability to charge at home, battery range, and the total cost of operation when compared to a conventional car.

• As far as incentives go, consumers would be most swayed to purchase an electric vehicle by paying no sales tax and being offered free parking. (Lots of commuters were included on the survey, apparently.)

• One of the more interesting facts: 48% of those surveyed said that they'd want to know how the electricity powering their car would be generated (an important consideration for those truly concerned about environmental impact). In China, the figure hit 62%, but in the U.S., just 43%. On the brighter side, younger respondents were more concerned than their elders.

• Given a choice between a plug-in hybrid and a full EV, a whopping 71% would take the hybrid.

• Not surprisingly, range, charge point availability, and charging time were consumers' biggest concerns in evaluating electric rides.

• 62% of those surveyed would want to charge their car's battery when depleted, but an impressive 38% would chose to swap it out for a new one. (That's good news for Better Place.)

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Comments (4)
  1. I am in favor of EVs, but I am shocked that so many Americans (48%) want to see EVs replace gasoline cars. I would have guessed, at most, it would have been 10%.

  2. Yes, I take this survey as good news for a cleaner tomorrow. But the majority of potential EV adopters still don't really know what the options are RIGHT NOW. This is noted in Richard's great summary and it was hammered home to me at a local "Earth Day" setting about 6 weeks ago when we gathered several Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt cars for public discourse. Almost nobody really knew anything about the cars !!!!

  3. I would not consider any vehicle without a 300+ miles range and quick refueling. I love the EV technology, but it does not make sense to give up traveling for the love of any kind of vehicle.

  4. @John B, I think the high % is simply due to "ideal conditions," meaning it's natural that most people want EVs. It's just that most people suddenly don't want them if there's even a little sacrifice involved.
    EVs are ideal mostly for second cars now. Do we always need two or more vehicles at home that can always go 300 miles? Yeah, maybe 1-2 times a year we need one. I occasionally rent cars anyway for long trips since the rental fee is cheaper than the depreciation on my car with the miles anyway. EVs aren't for everyone, but they'd work for many as second cars while the technology improves.

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