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%).