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Pike Research survey finds strong fundamental US consumer interest in EVs; price remains a significant barrier

To assess consumer demand, preferences, and price sensitivity for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, Pike Research conducted a web-based survey of 1,051 US consumers in the fall of 2011 using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample. The survey found that, based on Americans’ driving and commute patterns, PEVs should be a strong fit for a large number of consumers.

Likewise, survey respondents indicated strong fundamental interest in PEVs, with 40% of participants stating that they would be “extremely” or “very” interested in a plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle with a range of 40 to 100 miles and an electricity cost equivalent of $0.75 per gallon. However, price sensitivity remains a significant issue, as survey participants’ willingness to pay was much lower than the prices currently planned by automakers.

Pike Research’s price sensitivity analysis, utilizing the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter methodology (a widely-used market technique for determining consumer price preferences, introduced in 1976 by Dutch economist Peter van Westendorp) indicates that for a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle that would ordinarily cost $20,000, the optimal price point for consumers of a comparable PEV would be $23,750—a significant price premium. While this indicates an understanding among consumers that PEVs will be priced at a premium, the amount is significantly less than automakers’ intended prices, Pike notes.

Pike believes that this gap between actual pricing and consumer willingness to pay will be a significant inhibitor of demand for PEVs.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Of the 1,051 respondents interviewed, 4% currently own or lease a hybrid—a figure higher than the current overall hybrid marketshare in the US.

  • 81% of respondents stated that improved fuel efficiency would be an important factor when purchasing their next vehicle.

  • Levels of interest in EVs were not dramatically different between demographic segments such as age, gender, income, and level of education, leading Pike to conclude that PEVs should have solid mass-market appeal. Pike notes that consumers under age 30 are somewhat more likely to demonstrate interest in PEVs, as are people with higher levels of education.

  • When asked to choose between five different PHEV and EV range/price options, respondents did not state a clear preference for any one configuration. Of the choices offered, the electric-only model with a 100-mile range had the greatest number of respondents showing interest with 24%. Another 25% of respondents stated that they would not purchase any of the options provided.

  • When asked which vehicle brands they would consider for an EV, panelists were most likely to choose Toyota (51%) and Ford (46%), two automakers that did not have PEVs on the market at the time of the survey. Chevrolet (42%) and Nissan (33%), the two manufacturers that launched models in North America in 2010, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

  • 80% indicated that they would be “extremely” or “very” interested in upgrading to a residential “fast-charging” EV charging unit that would utilize the same amount of electricity but reduce charging times from 8 to 12 hours to 2 to 4 hours.

    The results also indicate that pricing is once again an issue with fast-charging equipment. Pike’s analysis suggests that the first generation of residential fast-charging equipment will cost between $500 and $800, but only 28% of panelists stated that they would be willing to pay $500 or more for this capability. The average price consumers were willing to pay was $408.

  • PEV intenders in the survey expressed strong interest in workplace, private, and public charging stations. The most popular choices for charging stations were the workplace (74%) and roadside charging stations (82%).

Comments

HarveyD

Very interesting. It confirms that people (81%) want affordable vehicles with better fuel economy but are being offered gas guzzlers instead.

When will manufacturers build and sell what people really want?

That is the real question!!!

Davemart

The Renault approach of selling the vehicle and leasing the battery is superior.
That way customers can make savings from day one.

ChrisL

Consumer polls on BEVs will be unreliable until the respondents have some actual experience with electric vehicles.

Darius

In case tax credit will be in place the consumer aspirations are in reality range.

critta

My personal interest in EVs here in Victoria, Australia went down when I found out that with our wonderful brown coal power generation, an EV is responsible for more GHG emissions than a Ferrari. I guess I could solve the problem by paying the premium for green power.

Herm

"The Renault approach of selling the vehicle and leasing the battery is superior. That way customers can make savings from day one."

Apparently it seems like the only way that BEVs will appeal to the mass public.. its not a bad way to do it the batteries have low leasing terms. Its probably not allowed by the "Lemon Laws" of many States.

Roy_H

So Renault Fluence is about Euro 21k and battery lease Euro 82/mth. Nissan LEAF Euro 30k. I guess this is a bargain as it would take 9 years of battery leasing to make the 9k difference in price. I wonder how they do it? Or am I not comparing properly with VAT and incentives not equivalent. It doesn't make sense to me that a battery would be effectively half price just because it is leased.

HarveyD

With current and future battery evolution increasing rate, leasing may be the best way to go for most HEV/PHEV/EV owners. Assuming a possible 3 to 5 yr contract period, owners could benefit by leasing an improved battery pack every 3 or 5 years. The average EV could use at least 3 different battery packs during its 15+ years life expectancy.

HarveyD

The new Sim-Lei EV can go 350+ Km at 100 Km/hour on a fully charged 24 Kwh battery. It consumes only one(1.0) Kwh for every 13 Km. That's equivalent to 442 Km per gal of regular gas or 272 miles per gal.

Future improved ICEVs will have difficulties to reach this level of efficiency.

Mannstein

This finding has been intuitely obvious to the most casual observer.

Who in his / her right mind would purchase an EV at double the price with one third the range of an ICE vehicle?

ai_vin

Who in his / her right mind would purchase an EV at double the price with one third the range of an ICE vehicle?

Answer: Someone who looks at the "lifetime" costs. After you've factored in 15 years of operational and maintenance costs for both ICEVs and BEVs the BEV comes out way cheaper.

Reel$$

And if you own a serial hybrid, i.e. a Volt or Fisker with a range extender genset, there is no "range" differential. You can commute to work all EV and go to grandma's on Charge Sustain EV. Best of both worlds until battery energy density improves 10 fold.

Which BTW, Northwestern researchers claim to have done with graphene anodes.

HarveyD

Right on Reel$$...you may also do well with a 50 to 60 mpg HEV, at least until those promised 5x or 10x performance batteries show up.

Current BEVs are OK for short distances.

HarveyD

Mitsubishi claims that 50% of its 2020 production is going to be BEVs.

If the majority follows, BEVs may be around in great numbers sooner than many expected.

Arne

critta,

Then why don't you install solar panels to generate the electricity in a clean way?

According to the EPA average US emissions for coal plants is ~1 kg/kWh. Electricity consumption for the LEAF is about 125 Wh per km. Add 50% for grid/charger losses and real-world circumstances and you're looking at less than 200 g/km.

There is no Ferrari model that emits less than 200 g/km. Well-to-wheel.

So what you're saying is not even true.

msevior

Anne, in Victoria, Australia, we use our abundant Brown Coal for electricity. There is more than 500 years worth at current use rates in a very conveniently located deposit about 150 from the biggest city.

Brown Coal has a high moisture content which means you need to burn more of it to get the same energy. Our power stations emit 1.3-1.5 Kg C02/KWHr.

Vitaly Vinogradov

But by using your brown coal, by paying for electricity you supporting your local economy.

But by buying gasoline you supporting oil producing countries.

SJC

By turning sunlight into electricity and charging batteries in an EV, you are paying no one but yourself after initial purchase.

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