Depending on which websites you visit and which news channels you watch, electric cars are either portrayed as the poster children of green revolution, or an example of catastrophic government failure. 

But while it’s relatively easy to find examples of extreme pro- and anti-electric car sentiment from politicians, biased news agencies and advocates, are average consumers positive or negative towards plug-in cars?

Sadly, it appears to be the latter. At least, that’s what Consumer Reports discovered in its recent 2012 Car Brand Perception Survey.

Of the random 1,702 car-owning adults the Consumer Reports National Research Center contacted by telephone across the U.S., a massive 87 percent said they had some form of concern with plug-in cars. 

Most common among these was range anxiety, with 77 percent of those questioned saying that they believed electric cars could not meet their daily driving needs. 

Since a recent study concluded that 95 percent of all trips made in the U.S. could be made by electric cars, the survey highlights the disparity between perceived and actual capabilities of plug-in cars in the mind of the average consumer. 

Chevrolet Volt Versus Nissan Leaf

Chevrolet Volt Versus Nissan Leaf

It gets worse. 

A shocking 42 percent of respondents expressed the concern that electric cars posed a real fire risk to their homes while charging, while 40 percent said they believed almost silent electric cars were a major threat to pedestrians. 

In fact, safety concerns dominated the survey, with many consumers expressing the concern that electric cars were less safe than gasoline cars. 

While 43 percent said they felt electric and plug-in hybrids were as safe as their gasoline counterparts and 20 percent said they were safer, a total of 28 percent said electric cars were less safe. 

As a consequence of the recent and highly-publicized fires which occurred in post crash-test Chevrolet Volts at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) facilities, 39 percent of those questioned said that they had concerns about the safety of electric cars in a crash. Thirty-five percent said they were concerned about post-crash fires. 

2012 Ford Focus Electric

2012 Ford Focus Electric

Along with other concerns including electrocution (30 percent) and the accident avoidance (29 percent), the Consumer Reports survey posts a bleak public opinion of electric cars.

But is it really correct? As we’ve said many times before, the outcome of any particular survey can be influenced by the way in which questions are asked. This is particularly true when survey participants are interviewed, which can introduce some subjectivity in the way their responses, thoughts, and comments are recorded

What do you think? Are plug-in and all-electric cars viewed so badly by the majority of consumers?

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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