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News   August 25, 2010   by CARS Magazine

Americans Want to Give Electric Vehicles a Test Drive, New CEA Study Reports

Forty per cent of consumers report they are likely to test drive an electric vehicle, according to a new study of online American adults from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The study, Electric Vehicles: The Future of Driving,...


Forty per cent of consumers report they are likely to test drive an electric vehicle, according to a new study of online American adults from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The study, Electric Vehicles: The Future of Driving, suggests electric vehicles entice consumers with improved environmental quality and potential cost savings, but leave them with questions about battery life and convenience of battery charging.

“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”

Consumers are open to considering an electric vehicle in the future, with 42 per cent reporting they are likely to follow news reports about electric vehicles. However, overall awareness of the various types of alternative vehicles remains low. While nearly one-third (32 per cent) report they are familiar, or very familiar, with hybrid vehicles, only about one-quarter are familiar with electric-powered vehicles (25 per cent).

For the first time, electric vehicles will be featured at the 2011 International CES, showcasing a full range of high- and low- speed vehicles, energy storage devices and charging equipment. This new CES TechZone will feature major automotive companies, including Audi, in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall.

Those consumers who are open to buying an electric vehicle cite the positive environmental impact and potential cost savings as primary reasons to do so. More than three-quarters of those surveyed (78 per cent) said the vehicle’s ability to run without gasoline is the greatest advantage, followed by less pollution (67 per cent), and the lack of need for oil changes and tune-ups (60 per cent).

“For a new product category, interest in electric vehicles is strong and likely to grow as more vehicles enter the market and consumers become more aware of them,” said Chris Ely, CEA’s manager of industry analysis. “Manufacturers, dealers and other sellers will need to emphasize mileage and battery-related specifications when promoting and selling electric vehicles.”

According to the study, consumers perceive several disadvantages about electric vehicles. Concerns about mileage potential before needing to recharge (50 per cent) and battery life (34 per cent) top the list. Cost of the vehicle, reliability and availability of charging stations are also key concerns many consumers have.

The study finds running out of battery power on the road (71 per cent), lack of charging stations and/or not being able to recharge (66 per cent) and limited mileage (59 per cent) are the most common perceived disadvantages with electric vehicles. Home charging stations may also impact purchase decisions. Half of consumers (51 per cent) would be less likely to consider purchasing an electric vehicle if they would have to install special charging equipment for the batteries.

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

Electric Vehicles: The Future of Driving (August 2010) was conducted from May 27 – June 3, 2010. The complete report is available free to CEA member companies at members.CE.org. Non-members may purchase the study for $699 exclusively at mycea.CE.org.