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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

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 it would need to offer a range of more than 400 km (249 miles). Click to enlarge.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.




Perception is changing fast and varies considerably between countries, with China being being surprisingly very high and further ahead than most countries.

The expected average e-range for BEVs (437 Km) is understandable. One can also assume that 52 Km would be the favored e-range for PHEVs. Both will be reached by 2015/2016. The new Tesla is very close to the favored BEV e-range and the Volt already meets what is expected of a PHEV e-range.

A PHEV with a very small ultra light genset to extend total range for occasional long trips may be the favaored solution for many, at least until such time as BEVs with 500+ Km range are available and affordable..


Similar numbers have been found in numerous studies for the last several years regarding hybrid sales as well, yet the actual sales numbers never match the "would consider" numbers - not even close.

Ultimately, most consumers will consider hybrids and plug-ins as their next vehicle, but they'll only buy if they believe that hybrids or plug-ins are the most cost-effective solution - and that's still after charging and range needs are met.

Inevitably, fast tracking electrification boils down to two things: much cheaper battery costs and/or a massive change in consumer psychology particularly around expectations of what personal mobility needs to be - skewing towards pure function rather than universal needs (Yet, even if consumers could handle that change, could automakers?).

Sadly, these "would consider" studies are almost starting to become irrelevant, although the implications on the grid are noteworthy in this particular survey.


dah...yes, forecasters have missed the boat often, specially for early days in most major changes. Vehicle electrification needs a leader and that may be China (and India + Brazil?) with faster expanding fleets and not enough liquid fuels. Unfortunately, we still believe that we can grow all the liquid fuels we need without creating a worldwide food shortage.

Batteries performance has to increase by 2x to 4x and their price have to come down under $250/Kwh before long range BEVs become a reality. Meanwhile HEVs and PHEVs with small genset and smaller batteries may be the acceptable interim solutions.


A major change that may catch much faster is 'cloud computing'. It is a way to store/access information at your finger tips using your a cell phone and/or wireless tablet, any where you happen to be. A full home or office computer may not be required. Park your data into a cloud and access it whenever you want. Share it at will. Pay a small storage fee and a bit more for safer double storage.


Harvey you know nobody really believes they can "grow all the liquid fuels we need." Nobody even suggests that. Nissan, Tesla and GM/Volt are the EV leaders today. China and India have done nothing. Everyone else is talking a lot and delivering very little.

Results of this poll just confirm what we've known for years - people will not be comfortable with an EV with under 250m range. The only economic fix today is the EREV. Which is why Volt has sold all the units they can make.


Reel$$...I put China in the lead position for vehicle and train electrification because it has a much more dynamic economy and workforce. It seems that we are in a relative downward curve (specially since 2006/2007) while China is in a very fast growing curve. In one decade, they have done what we normally take 2 to 4 decades. If that trend continues, they will electrify their transportation systems 2 to 4 times faster than we will and de facto become the world leader.

Have a close look at what they are doing with high speed e-trains, e-vehicles of all sizes, high performance batteries, associated e-ancillaries and control systems, charging stations etc and you will find out that we are falling behind at a fast rate. GM will soon make more vehicles in China than in USA.

USA has already created a worldwide high food price crisis with its corn based ethanol. What will it do next?


I don't recall anyone saying we could grow all the fuels we need.


I find these statistics and graphics unsettlingly simple and probably useless when they try to predict human behavior. For example, one says: "what battery range .... before you would purchase?" yes - but how would that change if the cost of the car was $10,000 less than price of its ICE equivalent? What about $10,000 more? How would that statistic change if the cost of running your EV car was now 1/2 the price per km travelled versus ICE? How would the statistic change if you had to replace the $3-10k battery after 3 years or 5 or 7? I can't believe that such a modern data assessment company such as Accenture would provide such utterly meaningless data from statistical models that have been used for countless decades.


Good point Jer, they would say they want the most range if they don't have to pay for it. In surveys, it is important to get the questions right and the groups right, otherwise the results are ambiguous.


I don't think poles like this are very accurate predictors. However, the 9% of drivers who would settle for less than 200 km indicates that there is a substantial market. This level of demand justifies continuing development of battery technology. When quick charge stations are assured, the 9% may increase.


If the government wants to improve EV sales, work with employers to install charging stations. They do not have to be high power creating load problems, they will get commuters that use lots of fuel.


For many of us, the weekly fuel cost to run a mid-size vehicle (300+ miles) is getting close to $100 (60 L @ $1.66). What if you could rent your fully charged batteries + two/three free quick recharges or exchanges a week for about the same $100?

Buying a BEV or PHEV without the batteries should be easier on the pocket book. It should cost less than the equivalent ICE machine?


These things should really be graphed in a spreadsheet that can model any changes/assumptions and create graphs to look for inflection points and crossovers.

For example, you can assume gas goes up by 10% a year on average or 30% a year on average. You can also assume that battery prices come down by 10% or come down by 20%. You could also make assumptions about the range of the car at a certain price vs the increase in gas prices.

The results are VASTLY, VASTLY different as to what people would buy.

Also, what a person will actually buy and their views of alternatives are greatly influenced by what they hear from others and that is what concerns me the most. You have people who will listen to Top Gear or Rush Limbaugh and refuse to think for themselves and suddenly an EV is not even a possibility.

And those people will not even take a serious look at what the actual benefits are because it is much easier to scare someone away with negative talk than to convince them with actual positive data.

As for these polls...they are completely useless:
1)these base assumptions and price/tradeoffs will change LONG before most people will be considering an electric car and 2) You can ask the question any way you want and get whatever results you're looking for.


I do not know if incremental batteries would work with an EV, but maybe a PHEV. Start with 4 kWh in a PHEV to make it affordable, then you can add 2/4 kWh increments over time as need warrants.

This will probably not be done until someone does it and it catches on. Most will buy what is offered and roll it into the car loan and that is all. I can not see makers offering different levels of capacity either.

To me PHEVs are HEVs with more batteries, a plug and different firmware. Most people will figure this out and wonder why different configurations are not offered in the same model. If you have a large enough motor, add some batteries and a plug.


Good article (in a controversial, thought-provoking way) on selling your EV power back to the grid and making a sizable income on it. How likely? meh.


Your assumption that battery price is in proportion of kWh delivered not correct. Moreover you should consider that the smaller battery pack the more cycling stress is on the battery. Another important feature is kW or torque delivered. The size of battery could be limiting factor. So in nut shell what matters is not only kWh. It is combination kWh/kW/cycles/price/weight/volume/efficiency/termal control.


Astonishing. The censors on GCC appear to be mighty sympathetic to the CCP. Gentlemen, this forum is for people stating opinions. They are often based on facts, backed up by sources.

If every time someone points out a weakness in CCP's operation - it gets censored, you have nothing but a totalitarian mouthpiece. Try to buck up. If your system is so flawless the comments of one poster won't rattle it...

I merely noted to Harvey that China's best selling car is the Buick Excelle and that the BYD F3e (their EV) sold only 400 units and was cancelled. China is already failing in EV and alternative energy leadership; they are making progress in HSR - good.

But China's air and water is the most polluted on Earth. Buck up. You got a big country - a little honest reporting won't break it. What goes around comes around.



I was referring to incremental battery capacity in PHEV where the state of charge is controlled. Saying that everyone will plug in every night and you will run the first 20, 30 or 40 miles on electricity may not be necessary.

EVs could do the same thing, start with 16 kWh and increase in 4 kWh increments. If people are using them for just city errands, they may not need 30 kWh, but that is all they can buy. Starting with enough batteries to go 100 miles says that they do 100 miles per day. If people want 200 mile range, they have to carry that much to do it every day, which is costly.


I fully agree with SJC on this one. Controlling incremental battery packs should not be a major challenge these days. Standardized plug-in battery modules is not a challenge either.

Alternatively, to make the initial purchase price much lower, one should be allowed/have the choice to buy his/her HEV/PHEV/BEV without batteries. Renting standardized mass produced battery modules may/should not cost much more than what we have to pay at the fuel pump, specially for limited daily usage. This way, you could rent improved battery packs/modules at lower price whenever they become available. Todays gas stations could become tomorrows battery exchange stations.


Rent/Lease has some advantages, that is kind of the Project Better Place idea. Since they cost so much, life span and technology issues are factors. I may not want a chemistry that is not as good in 5 years, let the lease company take the risk and sell them for home UPS battery systems in the garage.

So you may buy the car, but lease the batteries. It is all cash flow, depreciation and risk. Imagine selling an EV after 5 years, the battery life and replacement cost is a factor. With a lease, that is not as much of a consideration, the costs are known to the consumer.

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