In news that will no doubt be music to the ears of any manufacturer planning to sell an electric vehicle, new research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) finds that two fifths of US adults are interested in test driving an EV.

The study reveals that consumers are interested in the improved environmental quality and potential cost savings of running an EV, though many people do still have concerns about battery life and the convenience of charging.

Green Benefits

As consumers become increasingly interested in green technology, the environmental benefits of EVs are the biggest attraction. Over three quarters of those surveyed said that the ability to run without gasoline was an attractive proposition, and 60 percent cited the lack of need for oil changes and tune-ups as something they were interested in.

Awareness of electric vehicles is still quite low, however. 32 percent of those surveyed were either familiar or very familiar with hybrid vehicles, but only 25 percent were familiar with full-electric vehicles.

Range Concerns

Predictably, concerns about range are still widespread, with half of the respondents concerned about a vehicle's range before recharging and a third worried about battery life. 71 percent responded that running out of charge on the road was a big concern. Cost is also an issue, despite the large tax incentives available on EV purchases. Half of the consumers quizzed would be less likely to purchase an EV if they needed to install special charging equipment at home.

Chris Ely, CEA's manager of industry analysis, says that “Environmental benefits, coupled with potential cost savings in fuel and tune-ups, will lead to increased interest for electric vehicles and potential floor traffic at dealerships,"

“But concerns regarding battery life, charging stations and limited mileage may keep some consumers away until a comprehensive infrastructure is in place.”

Lack of Knowledge

We think that the lack of general EV knowledge amongst the buying public have a strong impact on the figures though - as we know, several organisations are working towards developing a comprehensive network of EV charging stations, and others are working to reduce the cost and increase the convenience of home charging.

Range anxiety issues are a common theme when discussing EVs but these concerns might be eased with a test drive - many current EV owners have learned to adapt their journeys and charging schedules so that range never even crosses their minds.

Nevertheless, the number of consumers willing to test drive an EV will be encouraging to companies like Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Smart and Fisker who all have electric cars in development. Getting people behind the wheel is often the biggest challenge, but with 40 percent wanting to do just that the potential hard work might already be done.

[Consumer Electronics Association via]