Accenture study finds 60% of consumers would consider plug-in electric vehicles for next car, but charging preferences could challenge utilities; plug-in hybrids preferred over pure EVs
18 May 2011
The majority of consumers would consider buying a plug-in electric vehicle (PEVs) for their next car purchase, according to a global study by Accenture. A strong majority (71%) would prefer a plug-in-hybrid to a pure battery-electric vehicle. But an accompanying report concludes that consumer preferences for charging PEVs could increase the cost and complexity of managing the electricity grid and charging infrastructure.
“Plug-in electric vehicles: changing perceptions, hedging bets”, a study of more than 7,000 people in 13 countries, found that 60% of consumers would consider buying a PEV for their next car purchase. 68% would probably or certainly do so within the next three years (23% certainly, 45% probably). Respondents in China are by far the most enthusiastic, with 96% of them probably or certainly considering a purchase in the next three years.
|A global average of 60% would consider a PEV for the next vehicle purchase. Click to enlarge.|
Consumers’ preferences for charging PEVs, however, could challenge utilities and charging service providers by increasing grid congestion and peak time electricity demand. Other findings of the study include:
67% of consumers are not willing to let charge point operators limit when they can charge their PEV. A further 20% would only accept limits if they fell within time periods they had chosen. This would reduce the scope to manage electricity demand and avoid grid congestion.
62% would reject battery swapping, preferring to plug in their car to recharge the battery. This could limit the opportunity for charging off peak, when battery swapping companies would most likely refuel batteries.
55% would only plug in their PEV when they need to charge up, rather than whenever they park. This behavior could result in less predictable charging patterns and could reduce the demand for public charging infrastructure.
Only 29% of car drivers would buy fully electric PEVs. 71% would prefer plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs). 85% say fully electric PEVs have insufficient battery range to cover their daily driving needs. 83% cite the insufficient availability of charging points and 70% think charging times for full plug-in EVs are too long.
Although the average consumer drives no more than 40 miles/60 kilometers (km) per day, 52% of the respondents say that to consider any form of PEV for their next purchase, that vehicle would need to offer a range of more than 400 km (249 miles).
80% would want to know the source of the electricity used to charge their car. 45% say that the fuel source would have an impact on their decision to buy a PEV. Of these, 85% would be encouraged to buy a PEV if the fuel source was renewable. Nuclear and fossil fuel generated electricity would discourage 48% and 51% respectively from buying a PEV.
51% of consumers would be motivated to buy a PEV for their next purchase if the total running cost was lower than for a conventional vehicle. More important, however, would be the availability of charging points (63%) and the battery range being equal to a full tank of a conventional car (53%).
When asked what incentives would encourage them to switch to a PEV, 65% of respondents cite free parking, 44% point to toll discounts and 43% to the availability of priority lanes as potential incentives.
Utilities may face strong competition in the charging services market. When asked who they would prefer to buy charging services from, 79% put utilities in their top three choices. 71% listed gas/ diesel service stations in their top three. Retailers and local governments fare less well on 51% and 48% respectively. The vast majority of car drivers would want to pay as they charge, as they do for fuel today, requiring utilities to consider changes to their revenue and billing systems if they are to service the market.
The study makes recommendations for energy utilities:
Reach consumers through commercial alliances with automotive distributors: this will help monitor local demand for PEVs and their impact on infrastructure. It will also give them advantaged access to new customers as they purchase PEVs.
Optimize infrastructure through collaboration with distribution network operators (DNOs): This includes investing in smart charging to automate charging at times and speeds optimal to the grid and generation capacity. Utilities should also use analytics to exploit consumer usage to better determine patterns of demand and supply.
Engage consumers through market segmentation: Target customer groups with different offers to increase margins as adoption rises. Utilities should also ensure the focus of PEV pilots covers the customer experience as well as technology issues.
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