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Electric Car Prices: Less Important Than Buyer Awareness They Exist?

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2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

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Back in December, we covered a survey by Navigant Research that suggested most car buyers were hoping to spend $25,000 or less on their next vehicle--a figure that many modern electric cars find themselves on the wrong side of.

It led us to wonder whether, with many consumers setting themselves that kind of budget, it was still very much a barrier to entry for electric vehicles.

Navigant Research has now written to reiterate that its findings weren't only about price--they were, as we noted, as much about the lack of awareness car buyers have for plug-in vehicles.

One important aspect of the survey was that the $25,000 mark shouldn't be considered a barrier, as such, but just a preference for a buyer's budget.

MORE: Is $25K Still The Barrier For Electric Car Ownership?

Those most likely to consider an electric vehicle are happy to spend a little extra anyway--so Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts in the late 20s to mid-thirties price range (pre-incentives) are clearly priced well for those most inclined to buy them in the first place.

Navigant's survey revealed that those most willing to spend a little extra on their next vehicle already owned hybrid or plug-in vehicles. As the price comes down, most respondents said they were more likely to buy a vehicle--and existing owners remained most likely to buy another plug-in car.

But the original survey highlighted just how few customers know about the vehicles on offer.

It showed that just 44 percent of respondents were "somewhat familiar" with the Chevrolet Volt, and less than a third could say the same about Nissan's Leaf.

If so few are even vaguely familiar with two of the biggest-selling plug-in vehicles in the country, just how many people are unaware of them altogether?

MORE: Many Consumers Still Unaware Of Electric Vehicle Incentives

Worse still, we've previously reported on just how few people are aware of the incentives available to electric vehicle customers. Hefty federal tax rebates, state incentives, carpool lane access and more can make the cost of buying an electric vehicle tumble, before you even get to the low running costs.

Yet if all customers see is a $25,000-plus sticker price, there's little incentive to buy the cars over the cheaper gasoline model sitting on the same dealer lot.

As the increasing interest with lower prices showed, pricing is still clearly very important when buying a plug-in vehicle. But for a great number of customers, simply knowing more about them is probably the most important factor in getting more people into electric cars.

Conveniently, spreading the word is also the easiest way of encouraging electric car use...

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