2015 Nissan Leaf
Respondents' familiarity with those vehicles ran at 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively. About a third of mainstream buyers correctly identified the fuels for the two vehicles.
Among plug-in pioneers, familiarity ratings for the Prius, Volt and Leaf ran to 80 percent.
While almost all the early adopters identified the correct fuels for the Leaf (99 percent) and Volt (90 percent), they too had a bit of trouble with the Prius. Only two-thirds (68 percent) correctly identified the hybrid's fuel: gasoline only.
The study's third big conclusion, then, is that potential plug-in purchasers don't know enough about electric vehicles to know how well one might meet their needs.
Bringing mainstream car buyers' familiarity with electric cars up to the same levels as the pioneer / early-adopter group could expand the market fourfold.
Electric-car charging information from BC Hydro, West Coast Green Highway, British Columbia, Canada
Other findings from the Canadian report's 26-page executive summary include:
- Based on the marginal emissions associated with increased electricity consumption, electric vehicles are cleaner than hybrids, even in the coal-powered province of Alberta;
- Only about two-thirds of charging events occur at home in British Columbia, where electric vehicle owners benefit from extensive public charging infrastructure; studies in other regions report a much higher proportion
British Columbia [image: Wikimedia Commons]
- Leaf owners were most likely to view their vehicles were environmental and responsible, while Tesla owners were most likely to think of their vehicles as attractive, intelligent, sporty, exotic, powerful, and an indicator of personal success. (Is it any wonder the company's customer-satisfaction scores are so high?)
Future research plans include quantifying how electric cars reduce regional greenhouse-gas emissions over time, and expanding the plug-in electric vehicle sales forecast model to other Canadian provinces and other countries.
The researchers also plan to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different supply- and demand-based policy measures, e.g. zero-emission vehicle mandates, financial incentives, public charging infrastructure, and availability of outlets in the garages of multi-unit residential buildings.