Many regular readers will be aware of all the federal and local financial incentives and other benefits associated with running a plug-in car.

You're in a tiny minority though, according to a new survey--which suggests 95 percent of the population is completely unaware of electric vehicle incentives and even simple running cost figures.

Two Indiana University researchers questioned 2,000 people in 21 of the nation's largest cities. The huge majority had no idea about state and local subsidies.

Of 758 respondents who lived in areas where subsidies for home charging equipment are offered, just two knew such subsidies existed, reports The Detroit News. Perhaps even worse, a full three quarters of those questioned weren't even aware of the possible cost savings and reductions in maintenance costs of plug-in vehicles.

It suggests even the most basic of information about electric vehicles is yet to filter through to the general population, despite cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt having been on sale for several years.

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John D. Graham, one of the report's co-authors, described it as "troubling for plug-in electric vehicle proponents and manufacturers". It's already known that general interest in plug-in vehicles is low, he says, but worse still that so few people--even those in cities, where EVs are at their best--are unaware of the benefits.

When customers don't know even basic running costs--like how little an electric vehicle costs to charge, compared to fueling a gasoline or diesel vehicle--then "they’re not going to shop for them when it comes time to buy a new car", said Sanya Carley, the report's other co-author.

Virtually all electric vehicles are subject to either state or federal financial incentives, and several states also offer individual benefits such as carpool lane access.

Some consumers are eligible for federal tax credits of up to $7,500 when they buy an electric car, significantly lowering the price of some vehicles. California offers a further rebate of $2,500 as part of its Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Many automakers also offer benefits of their own, such as discounted home charging stations and low lease rates--it isn't difficult to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle for well under $200 a month.

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We the messengers

So what is needed to raise the profile of electric vehicle benefits and incentives?

If you're reading Green Car Reports, you've already made a good start--you'll find a wealth of information here on all the latest electric vehicles and the financial incentives available to you.

You could also do worse than to check out Sierra Club's ZIP code-based guide to local incentives--it's one of the best we've found for discovering exactly what benefits are available in your locale.

But it's up to you guys, too--there's no better way of raising awareness of electric vehicles than talking to your family, friends and colleagues about them--and maybe they'll pass on that message too.


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