Why One-Third Of Electric-Car Buyers Might Not Buy Another

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Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

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Electric-car owners tend to be enthusiastic evangelists for the good points of driving on grid power.

At least, the ones we hear from usually are.

But there's another group of plug-in electric car owners who aren't quite as enthusiastic.

In fact, up to one-third of electric-car buyers in Japan say they might not buy another one, according to a current article in McKinsey Quarterly, the business journal of the well-known consulting firm.

In its study of early plug-in car buyers, McKinsey said, the firm found that some of them felt "seduced" by the various advantages of driving electric.

Those include the better driving experience during a test drive, various forms of government incentives and financial subsidies, and the promise of lower per-mile costs for "fuel."

But, unlike well-informed and environmentally aware green buyers, who understood the tradeoffs, these buyers only became aware of electric-car drawbacks after they purchased.

Those included the challenges of finding a charging station to recharge the car, and the costs of electricity to do so.

The McKinsey study also confirms the widely accepted belief that price is important, and only when electric cars get closer to the price of comparable gasoline cars will there be a true mass market for them.

To read the entire article, McKinsey asks you to register on its site with your name, job title, and company name. You can decide whether you want to do that.

If you're an electric-car owner today--and we know there are a lot of you on this site--would you buy another based on your experience so far?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (62)
  1. As long as you can accept the car has a short range that will get shorter as the battery ages and that you must plan your trips based on the range of the car, I will continue to drive the car.

    I believed when I bought the car that Nissan would improve the battery and would be able to offer a longer range by increasing the energy density of their modules; it would be a simple matter of replacing the battery with an upgraded rebuilt battery. I must say so far I am very disappointed they have not made more progress in doing this.

    I think the future of Nissan is depended on their ability to provide a lighter, less-costly, longer-range battery. "IT'S THE BATTERY, MY MAN!"

  2. Regarding improved & replacement batteries, be patient, we'll see clear improvements over five-year periods that are not so obvious year-year. If the Nissan and other EV OEMs don't offer replacement batteries when the original battery pack approaches its useful service life, there'll be opportunity for after-market options.

    The Leaf, Volt, & Model S are selling at rate of 20,000+ vehicles per year so we can expect 100,000+ of each model in 5 years. Currently Leaf has 50,000 head start & S is mostly pre-sold reservations; but overall the numbers are enough to encourage compitiion for (better/cheaper) replacement battery packs.

    A trade-off between battery capacity (kWH) and price will always exist, but it will slowly improve over time.

  3. I doubt that Nissan or any other major car maker will offer better replacement batteries as stand alones. What they will offer is the better battery in a brand new car. I would bet that by 2015 Ford will have a Tesla like car with a range of 200+ miles. I think they will also have PHEV's that go 60-75 miles on a charge.

  4. I would certainly buy another Volt or Tesla (if I can afford it). But I would expect both of them to improve by the time I need another one. With my Volt, I already looked at my car replacement differently than I used to. Efficiency has become one of the important reasons.

    I would wish someone makes a plugin minivan...

  5. Chrysler built a few Town and Countries... and then gave up:

  6. The insideeve.com post generated a virus warning from Avast Antivirus.

  7. Ooups, wrong publication ;) Here:

  8. I know. Those were "pilot" test cars. But they were pulled off market.

    So, still no product to buy for me...

  9. By the time most of the people who responded to the survey get round to needing a new car, most of their concerns will have been met. For example new charging points are being installed all the time, the cars are getting cheaper and the next generation of EVs will almost certainly have greater range.

    I for one am very unlikely to ever buy anything but an EV ever again. I just don't think I could go back, all that noise and vibration for a sluggish start off the line and the feeling of being robbed every time I stopped for gas. No thanks!

    Oh and the environmental stuff as well. ;)

  10. I believe in extended range only. Electric is atleast 10-15 years away until we get a charging infrastructure like gas stations do, and we can charge in the same time as we take to fill a gas tank.

  11. You are making the same erroneous assumption that many people make, laura. Not everyone drives the same way that you do. Most people (over 95%) drive only short distances and don't need a car that drives further. They will never need a national charging network because they will never drive their car across the country. I, for one, fly by plane for any long distance trips. You assume that an electric has to mimic what a gas car can do. That's wrong. So your declarations of 10-15 years and charge times are biased by your assumptions.

  12. While I agree with your numbers and general thinking, she is not making an erroneous assumption if she is the one driving the car and the needs she has require an extended range car. I am the same way. A pure EV would not work for me without having a second car. With my Volt, I have the EV and the second car in one. If a pure BEV fits, that's fine. Most people out there can't say for sure that it fits them and with a dearth of charging locations today and lack of understanding from fellow drivers and employers, I have to agree with her.

  13. Only Tesla makes EV's that can actually mimic what a gasoline car does that is go long distances without the need of recharging every 75 or so miles. I do not want a car maker to tell me that I have to settle for 75 miles only I need a car that can do at least 150 miles since I have a cabin 57 miles from my home and I work 48 miles away from my home. I do not want an ugly underpowered glorified electric golf cart with terrible range just because it is good for the planet. Sort of akin to take your castor oil since it is good for you mentality. EV's will not succeed until they are better than gasoline powered cars and Tesla has the right idea and the major automakers do not with their seemingly agreed upon 75 miles of range EV's they make.

  14. "You assume that an electric has to mimic what a gas car can do. That's wrong. So your declarations of 10-15 years and charge times are biased by your assumptions."

    Wow, talk about assumptions and arrogance! Yes, grendal, you certainly know better than laura what she wants/needs and should drive. According to your own biases, of course. For many people, if a BEV does not "mimic" an ICE vehicle, it's over there, so calling that belief wrong when many consumers decide according to it is, again, arrogant.

    I fly, too, of course. But I don't fly 250 miles to my weekend house and even Tesla won't help there at a price I can justify now. Finally, 10-15 years is one person's estimate, not bias. People are allowed to have opinions, not just you.

  15. Should have bought Volts.

  16. I too bought a Leaf and was dissapointed when the car did not deliver anything close to the 100 mile range that Nissan advertised. So the next car will be a Volt!

  17. Look at the C-Max Energi as well. I bought one about 3 weeks ago and I love it! I am getting 26 miles on the electric motor. Not sure about the gas engine as I have not really used on for more than 35-40 miles. Gas tank is still full.

  18. mike that's strange I too have a new Leaf that is capable of 100 miles so something is wrong somewhere.

  19. I prefer electric cars but it is the one that they are selling right now, too heavy and too expensive. I have no problem about $8,000.00 TRex-electrical with two light seats.

  20. excuse me...but..morons!

  21. Juan, if you have a comment on what appears to be erroneous information or false assumptions, let's hear it. Otherwise, your comment falls short of making a contribution.

  22. I've found in the news today that the scientists from the University of Brisbane propose a lithium-sulphur battery that could triple the range of electric cars http://bit.ly/143fWFh If this technology will hit the market, perhaps it would partially remedy the situation.

  23. I live in a city that already has a decent L3 network and L2 chargers fill in the gaps. The problems I see at this point are the cost of L3 charging ($40/month) and the cost of the vehicles themselves. Like others have mentioned- it does at times get tiresome having to plan your trips in a decent-sized city based on where an L3 station is and whether or not you have to go out of your way to reach one, which I have found is a relatively common affair. I have considered going back to the Prius after the electrics unless range is doubled and price in par with a Prius. It really sucks too because I genuinely enjoy the Leafs, but it isn't like Nissan is offering any real rewards for their first adopters. Right? We've all been paying attention.

  24. So lobby Nissan to install a BMWish REx...

  25. L3 (aka Level 3) is an incorrect term...it is DC Fast Charging or DC Level 2 charging. There is no Level 3 in either AC (AC Levl 1 & 2 presently available) or DC (Only DC Level 2 avauilable at this time....but DC Level 1 in review). Level 3 is proposed as a future development for both AC and DC charging...but does not exist at present.
    People keep confusing AC and DC charging as the same animal. See the Society of Automotive Engineers definitions of Voltage and Amperage for the various levels and the apporved SAe Connectors (AC Level 1 & 2 are the same) The Combo connector combine the AC connector with 2 additional contacts that are used with a larger connector for DC Level 2). All US and European PEV manaufactures will use this for DC.

  26. EVs are only going to get better and more affordable and they've grown beyond the point where a handful of automakers can deep-six the tech as GM & Toyota did 10 yrs ago.

    I'd advise the unhappy owners to sell the car as soon as possible - I'm sure they'll find buyers.
    The cars are bound to last as long as,if not longer than an ICE - the brakes certainly will - and 10+ yrs from now, whoever owns it can replace the battery and motor with ones that are lighter, cheaper and more powerful.

  27. The price I paid for my Nissan Leaf is a once-in-a-lifetime expenditure for me. Most of my cars have cost a lot less. But I love the car, and I think it can break-even vs. the cost of the used Camry I was driving. So I hope that if/when I need to replace the Leaf, prices will be lower and features will have improved to the point that it will be a slam dunk. I expect to be retired by then, so my needs may be quite different.

    I went into this adventure with eyes wide open, and the car is everything I expected and more. I like to pay attention to details. I do believe that some people could be disappointed if they don't understand their own needs and habits, and match the car to that rather than the other way round.

  28. Definitely. I'm loving my Tesla Model S 85kW. In 3 months I have 4500 miles on it. I've never needed to charge it anywhere but my garage despite driving 200 miles a day sometimes. Today I drove my son's ICE car just to remind myself and found I was almost out of gas. What a waste of time having to go to a gas station! I'd forgotten about the noise, vibration, and fumes of the ICE.

  29. Heck yes I'd buy another one. In fact, there's no way I'd ever buy a car that doesn't allow most miles to be electric. The Focus Electric I drive daily is by far the best car I've ever owned. A true joy to drive. With its 75 mile range, it easily meets all of my needs, and with more public charging stations going in every day, it just gets better. By the time we need to replace our family minivan, I'll be looking for a plug in hybrid that will do all local miles on electricity and only need gas for the occasional road trip.

  30. My wife bought a Volt in early Dec (2012)& it's over, she's done w/ice & all the disaster it's wreaked on earth & esp USA. I took her to see/drive the new ATS & the Caddy dealer sold Chevy too & she wanted to drive a Volt. It's gotten 4000 mi now on 4 gallons. Nissan cheaping on the battery mgt will hurt the image but keep watching GM's battery's performance, it's different, I'm guessing they're going to go 200k mi losing very little & lead the industry in it. I feel for the bev owner who needs public charging infrastructure, premium-gougers, those guys. GM hit it out of orbit w/EREV, although it's not for everybody currently, I believe it will continue to improve. Having a 1fam res w/garage helps tons.

  31. Sonny I don't understand you feeling sorry for EV owners with a 100 mile range having problems with a charging infrastructure. You then proudly claim your Volt that's limited to 40 miles electric range has done 4000 miles on 4 gals of gas! Seems your wife has done OK without a charging infrastructure.

  32. I'm also not so much a fan of pure electric mainly because of the limited range. Until the average electric car can do 2-3 hundred miles and charge quickly, it doesn't make sense to me.

    I on the other hand like technologies like the Chevy Volt. I own a 2013 and have no worries about getting stranded. The Volt is a superior technology (at least today) than any "pure" electric car on the road. No worries about getting stranded - ever.

  33. After much soul searching, the wife and I bought a regular Prius last month. I intend to buy a BEV next and when its electric range is not enough, I don't want to be stuck driving our pickup truck.

  34. I would like to say I would never buy another ICE car, but you never know. I will say I've had my LEAF for 4 months & 8000 miles & never intend to buy another ICE vehicle.

    Although more range is always the goal!

  35. I was a little astonished at first that the rate that might not buy them again was so low, about 35%. Even people that bought hybrids are less likely to buy another than that.

    But I have to agree that most people buying EV or plug-in hybrids are a special breed. Most of those people actually want an EV, not just a car that gets great gas mileage. So they pretty much know what they want and what they will get before they buy. I'm sure some are truly disappointed after some period of ownership and wouldn't do it again.

    I would buy one in a heartbeat if I could afford one. We have 4 cars in the family and 80% of the time or more, none get used more that 25 miles a day. I'm the perfect candidate and will consider one in the future.

  36. the transition to electric cars will be a while, this article points out some of why the Volt is an important vehicle, and I hope that more plug-in hybrid models are in the works.

  37. So far so good. I love my nissan leaf. I charge at night with 110 volts and in the morning I'm ready to go.

  38. i think the role of an EV in a two car household is here now and the current market will have EV manufacturers hopping for more than a decade.

    by then, EVs might be advanced enough where affordable EVs (Tesla u out) could cover all one's driving needs.

    right now, my LEAF covers 75% of our driving needs. But its Winter, we dont do as many road trips. Come Summer, the LEAF will only cover about 55-60% of the miles due to a handful of long trips we seem to make every year in a gasser.

    last year, the only month the gasser drove farther than the LEAF included two trips, one of 600 miles, another of 300 miles. take those trips out and the gasser drove less than half as far as the LEAF despite the LEAF being left behind for a total of 6 days

  39. Basically, this is not much different than people that buy the wrong cars or have uneducated expectations. These cars are sold within one year or less after purchased. I have owned two vehicles one year or less at great discount from the original price. I think expectations trump technical issues. I find Volts on the market with less than 3,000 miles for similar reasons. People buy on emotions more than with logic as to what is needed for their daily use. Some buy too large a vehicle or too small. And within 24 months I shall buy a plug-in hybrid to replace my hybrid. Great technology. Battery research in on place and Chevy is looking at a three cylinder engine on future Volts to decrease fuel costs.

  40. Today I drove 137 totally worry-free miles in my Volt. At some point in the latter stages of the driving, I realized how special my experience was, being able to do all I had to do without ever thinking, 'will I make it or not?' No other car near its price - EV or ICE - comes close to the Volt in terms of livability and driving ease. 47 miles of electric range and 90 miles on 2.01 gallons of gas (45 mpg) is unmatched. Will I buy another EV? As of today, absolutely yes on an EREV like the Volt; a resounding NO on a LEAF or FFE - neither would have gotten me back home today.

  41. Are you kidding? My C-Max Energi's first road trip was 78.6 mpg. C-Max will kill the Volt - Just look at the sales so far this year C-Max 5500 sold - Volt 1600 sold. C-Max energi's are selling for over $4000 over MSRP in southern California.

  42. your CMAX Energi did not get 78.6 MPG: that numer is artificial. Calculated the same way his Volt got 68mpg, but you have to account for the electricity, too.

  43. I will never again buy a car that does not plug-in, ever.

  44. Never has a product been as oversold as current electrics. If these cars had been sold to a random selection of motorists, the complaints would fill the airwaves, and certainly result in numerous class action lawsuits. Fortunately for the EV makers, they are selling to a crowd that will never admit they made a $95,000 mistake, the bad result one always gets when being an early adopter, regardless of the technology.

  45. @Kent: Ah, but that's the thing about specialty cars: They're not sold to a "random selection of motorists," are they? You could equally well say the same for Corvettes, or HUMMERs, or Lamborghini Murcielagos.

    But it's interesting to read your angry comments anyhow, even if you aren't necessarily taking into account how the auto industry works!

  46. Not sure why you are such a hater, but I just crossed 20,000 electric miles yesterday in my 2012 Volt. I've driven it since late November 2011 and the fuel savings alone (NET fuel savings, including my electricity costs) have been over $3500. The only real gasoline miles I have put on the car came in longer road trips of 225-750 miles each. I love the car, and it definitely costs me far less to own and operate than my previous car.

  47. I bet you have never driven one and really know next to nothing about electric cars. We have a 2011 Leaf with over 32,000 miles and a 2013 Fit EV with over 6000 miles. We also have a Honda CRV but haven't driven it since August. I would never have an ICE now. Try one - you just might like it LOL!!!

  48. I have a 2011 volt since Feb 2011, no more ice cars for me. The volt is smoother, quieter and much more fun. I can hardly stand our Cadillac, which always was go great until the volt arrived. Now my wife and I fight over who gets stuck with the Caddy, we resolved it by whoever has to go further gets the volt.

  49. From another happy Volt owner, while Big Auto refines their 8,10, 12 speed automatics in search of incremental smoothness and efficiency, the EV world looks ahead to game-changing battery improvements for our 1-speed EV's. No going back now, and California AQMD guarantees that.

  50. I live in Maui, Hawaii, with some of the highest gas and electricity prices in the country. I love my Leaf and would buy again, and tell everyone I know to get one. Having just visited California, I can't believe everyone does not have an EV or PHEV. Their air quality is disgusting, largely from vehicle emissions. 60% of Americans own two cars, so like me they can use their ICE car for longer trips. Not owning an EV/PHEV if you are a two car household and ready for another car is inexcusable. I chalk it up to the selfish consumerism of Americans to put convenience against health or other considerations. I drive my Leaf about 70 miles per day, more than 95% of Leaf owners. We have a second car we use for longer trips.

  51. CA is a big place. Air quality varies a lot from region to region...

    LA basin and central valley is bad. Some of that is due to cars, but a big part is also due to agriculture and industrial pollution.

    Try SF Bay Area or Wine Country and you won't see that air pollution.

  52. I already did buy my 2nd EV. My first EV purchased was a brand new Toyota RAV4-EV in 2002. After over 76k miles, I sold it when I bought my new Tesla Model S in 2012. Now have 3k miles on my new EV. Love the convienence of refueling at home, and EVs really are more fun, quiet, and smooth to drive.

  53. The headline "One-Third Of Electric-Car Buyers Might Not Buy Another" from article by McKinsey Quarterly is a bit overlapping.

    The data shows** that:
    * 58% said Yes,
    * 26% said Maybe (8% Maybe Yes, & 18% Maybe No), &
    * 16% said No


    So while No's (16%) & Maybe-No's (18%) add to 34%, the Yes's & Maybe's add to 84%. This leaves the percent buying another headline to might be, or a maybe not be one-third.

  54. I bought a Leaf and I understood the range intellectually. But I was surprised by my emotional response. Anxiety. I have overcome it, but my wife has not. I would love to have a tiny backup engine on board that I never use. My next electric car will have a backup engine, the smaller the better.

  55. I have owned a Leaf for 6 months and will buy another electric car. Chargers are becoming easier to find by the week, gas is going up faster than electricity and my next electric car will be better than this one. How do you go back to a noisy smelly car after electric?

  56. The automobiles future is electric propulsion regardless of how its produced or stored. We will see advances in this field providing greater range and faster fill ups over the next decade. One thing I have noticed in all the comments of mine is better than yours is everyone is striving to survive on electric only. Volt owners boast how little gas they use but psychologically have that old ICE crutch that prevents range anxiety but hey, we never use it! While EV owners have virtually committed suicide by casting their crutch aside and are flying in the wind. We are all after the same thing an electric future so lets stop arguing and see the good in where these cars "although flawed" are taking us.

  57. As someone in search of a good plug in minivan in Europe (waiting for the C-Max, and expected Volt-like Zafira), I cannot understand the requests for a long range pure EV I read above (I also don't understand Tesla's proposition, for the same reason). Suppose you get a car that can run 250 miles or even 300, what d you get? A much heavier (and therefore less efficient) car for most of the time you drive, a much costlier one (the battery is the most expensive component, so double range, double price), and when you need to travel long distance, say 500 miles, it will take a much longer stop to charge, killing most of the benefit of having to stop less. Oh, yeah, you could have a bigger charger.

  58. Oh, yeah, you could have a bigger charger, but this would require yet another level of chargers, and would tax the electric grid. Not to mention battery life.
    To me, pure EVs are made FOR short range, it's a feature, not a bug. And they should be small, light urban vehicles (500-size). You really need often longer ranges? Buy either a diesel (if long trips is all you do) or a plug-in/EREV, with a battery sufficient for you longer daily commute, not one mile more. Ideally, future EVs should have a modular battery, so that when you order the car you can tailor the weight and cost of the battery you carry to your most common mission. And possibly, add an additional module when the first loses capacity. The other winning idea, If someone can engineer it properly, is the swappable or schleppable range extender, that you only put in the trunk or attach as an appendix if needed. Then the pure EV would be viable as an only car. And finally, let's dream, inductive on road charging on trunk roads...

  59. Remember when you first get a new car...any car, even used? - You were excited and looked for any excuse to take it for a spin. What's that dear? We're out of milk? No problem - I'm happy to go get it. Well, after 2 years with my Volt it is still that way...I still look forward to every drive in it - the honeymoon is definitely not over. I will do everything in my power to only purchase electric from now until my license is ripped from my geriatric hand.

  60. My husband and I were the first ones to own a Leaf in Maryland and probably on the entire East Coast. I actually got to drive the car to the White House. We not only love our 2011 Leaf and have over 32,000 miles (without using a quick charger) last June we added a 2013 Fit EV to the Family. We love driving electric!!!

  61. The one thing you said in your article was they might not buy a electric car keep in mind the word "MIGHT". The time they might buy another electric car the prices has already drop the charging station are growing like weeds and battery are being improve everyday. Lets say the average middle class buyer buys a new car every 5 years now think 5 years in the future of electric cars. Charging station double battery range up 50% or double and a big price cut. Oh by the way electric cars has little our no maintenance to them so they might not need a new car at all. You can take that to the bank once you go electric you wont go back..

  62. The Return Of The Electric Car 2014
    I will never buy an other Gas car. I am saving big time by using
    electricity rather than gas. victorialeafclub.com has many EV owners and not one, that I know of, will go back to horse and buggy, or a gas car way of transportation. You have to be kidding me? One third ? Going back by being at the mercy of oil companies?
    Going back to having to drive to a gas pump and inhaling gas fumes and wasting that time and money. Going back to putting harm full mono oxide into the atmosphere and feeling responsible for
    health problems that might derive from it. I think, The electric car is a better than gas for the above reasons.
    Join VLC on the 31st. of January 2014 and see for yourselves. Fred

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