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Pike Research US consumer survey finds decreasing fundamental interest in plug-in electric vehicles

US consumer interest in PEVs, 2012. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge.

A new Pike Research survey assessing US consumer demand, preferences, and price sensitivity for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and electric vehicle charging equipment (EVCE) has found a decline in the fundamental interest in PEVs among survey participants between 2011 and 2012.

In 2012, 35% of respondents stated that they would be extremely or very interested in purchasing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or battery electric vehicle (BEV) with a range of 40 to 100 miles and an electricity cost equivalent to $0.75 per gallon. In 2011, 40% stated they were extremely interested or very interested in this type of vehicle.

The web-based survey of 1,001 consumers in the United States was executed in the fall of 2012 using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample. Pike Research conducted a similar survey in 2010 and 2011.

Among other findings of the Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey are:

  • Consumers continue to cite insufficient driving range as a reason they are not interested in PEVs, followed by a desire for the technology to develop further before committing to purchasing a PEV. However, this latter reason saw a significant decline from 2011.

  • Levels of interest in PEVs were not significantly different between demographic segments such as age, gender, income, and level of education, suggesting that these vehicles should have solid mass-market appeal. Consumers who are younger and have higher levels of education were somewhat more likely to demonstrate interest in PEVs.

  • Early adopters of technology were almost twice as likely to be interested in PEVs as the average consumer. Self-identified Democrats were somewhat more likely than Republicans (41% vs. 31%) to state they were extremely or very interested in PEVs.

  • Early adopters of technology were almost twice as likely to be interested in PEVs as the average consumer. Self-identified Democrats were somewhat more likely than Republicans (41% vs. 31%) to state they were extremely or very interested in PEVs.

  • Consumer familiarity with the PEV models varied, ranging from 25% to 54%, with the Chevrolet Volt leading and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV trailing in familiarity. However, no particular model of PEV stood out as a particularly good value for the money. Depending on the specific model, only 24% (for the i-MiEV) to 46% (for the Prius PHV) identified PEVs as an excellent or good value.

  • When asked which vehicle brands they would consider for a PEV, respondents continued to gravitate toward the same five brands in 2012. Toyota (50%) and Ford (43%) remain in the top two spots, followed by Chevrolet, Honda (both 42%), and Nissan (34%).

  • More than a third of respondents did not agree that PEVs are much cheaper to own than a gasoline vehicle. Almost half disagreed that PEVs are exciting to drive and own.

  • More than a third of respondents stated they believe that PEV batteries are dangerous and 4 in 10 stated that PEVs often leave their owners stranded when they run out of power.

EVSE. 81% of the respondents indicated they would be extremely or very interested in a residential fast-charging EV charging unit that would utilize the same amount of electricity but reduce charging times from 8–12 hours to 2–4 hours. More than 60% of respondents stated they would be interested in purchasing residential fast-charging equipment if the equipment and installation cost was less than $750.


I really don't know how "politics" played into the Volt battery size.
They figured into the subsidy levels written in Washington.
Bob Wallace

Is that how it happened or did things evolve the other way around?

From the Wiki Volt history - 2007 -

"Most of the Volt initial design parameters defined for the development of the concept car, then referred as the "iCar" in homage to the iPod, were kept throughout the process up to the final production version. A key design parameter was a target of 40 miles (64 km) for the all-electric range, selected to keep the battery size small and lower costs, and mainly because research showed that in the U.S. 78 percent of daily commuters travel 40 miles or less. "

If I recall correctly the EV/PHEV stimulus program was created by the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

Trevor Carlson


I'm sorry I'm not very good about being concise. I think my central argument got lost in the data.

My main point about the numbers is that vehicles are not investments. They may be necessities but that doesn't mean buying a NEW car will save you any money. It doesn't matter if it's a PHEV, EV, diesel... It's simply not practical to buy a new vehicle and keep it until it pays for itself versus the alternatives.

If you really want to save money AND buy an american hybrid, buy used. If you like the Volt, wait three or four years and buy someone's used Volt. Vehicles depreciate at fairly predictable rates. You have the right idea that hybrids don't seem to lose as much value as non-hybrids but your estimates are quite rosy.

The life of the vehicle only matters if you actually drive it for the entire life. Most people do not. My own personal estimate is that if taken care of a Volt should last at least 20 years. The latter owners will be the ones with the greatest savings until electronics start to malfunction and fail... but at least they won't have to have as many brake jobs right? Everyone knows that 10 year old computers are so much cheaper to diagnose and fix than a standard brake job every 3 years or so. (The processing power that is represented by all the control modules for such a complex product as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle boggles the mind. Do you keep your home computers for 10 years too?)

Despite your assertions that no-one trades a car every four years, the used car market begs to differ. There are plenty of one or two year old used vehicles on the market. It's not even unheard of to find a used car in the current model year every once in awhile. That being said, the average new vehicle ownership period is currently something like 6-7 years but that will come down as the economy stabilizes and people can afford to make those emotion driven purchases.

Remember a lot of people delayed or pulled ahead their vehicle purchases to take advantage of the CARS program. I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be a correlation between the timing of that program and the recent increase in new vehicle sales. Toyota saw the biggest bump from the CARS program and they're seeing the biggest sales numbers again now.

I found this article interesting because it strives to understand consumers and what their vehicle preferences are. Surveys are not nearly as accurate as how consumers vote with their wallets to make their preferences known. I'm encouraged that there are a lot of small cars getting sold but there's also an increasing number of trucks. Granted the new trucks are getting much better fuel economy percentage-wise than previous generations, so at least there's that.

Kit P

“I understand your criticism ..”

I was in the navy for 10 years so I recognize BS. In any case, hang in there because debate is good.


Nice link to a LCA but you are completely wrong about the application. H2 is an important chemical feedstock for many processes. We will never use H2 as a fuel when it comes from CH4 because natural gas is a much better fuel and safer to handle.

“A family of four uses a lot of hot water year round ”

This is an old myth. With low flow shower nozzels and enzymes detergents, we do not use very much hot water. In any case, if NG is a very efficient way to make hot water.

The California hippies you to say that if you just conserve we will not have to build new nuke plants. That also applies to making electricity in your home. Once you do all the cost effective conservation measures, making your own power is just not cost effective.

LCA shows almost zero emissions for HTGCR for large volumes of H2 for chemical feedstock and LWR for making electricity.

“The battery will be changed in about 10 years, ”

Will they?

I found a site that provides re-manufactured parts for the Pious which is an indication of demand:

Battery - $1700
Computer $600
Speedometer $150

For my 20+ year old cars, I do not have a problem with 're-manufactured parts'. For my 2007 Corolla I stick with the more expensive new replacement parts except I have not had to buy any. If something last 150k miles, it makes sense to buy another until the car has 200k miles or 20 years.

Except for Roger making up stuff, I am not hearing any good information about cost of keeping a BEV running. I have had the experience of keeping a beast that I was fond of running and justifying a new Holly racing carburetor. It was wonderful, the beast ran like new on the test drive until boom crubble, crubble. The sound of another expensive repair.

How long will batteries last and cost to repair is just a matter of conjecture.

Bob Wallace

Trevor - "vehicles are not investments".

Correct, people do not purchase ordinary vehicles with the expectation that they will appreciate with time. But it is common in business to "invest" in things which will not appreciate but will lower costs. A new HVAC system or computer program will not become more valuable but can improve the bottom line.

You are (probably) correct that it economically wiser to buy a used vehicle. I haven't looked at depreciation rates recently but historically cars depreciate more in their early years.

That has no bearing on whether EVs and PHEVs cost less over the lifetime of the vehicle than do ICEVs.

I don't know how to factor in your computer argument. The initial purchase cost and operating cost of computers is vastly different than automobiles.

I'm not sure how the ~6 year initial ownership of new cars figures into the argument. Over the length of ownership EVs and PHEVs cost less to own and operate. I would expect that the secondary market would value EVs and PHEVs higher than ICEVs based on data that finds that used car purchasers are willing to pay more for fuel efficient models. Nonetheless, EVs and PHEVs cost less to own and operate over the lifetime of the vehicle - my original statement.


I think you'll find that US drivers are buying fewer trucks compared to cars than they were, the market has shifted. American vehicle manufacturers have ceased to build compact trucks.

Bob Wallace

" I am not hearing any good information about cost of keeping a BEV running."

I'm pretty sure that GM has said that their Volt batteries are holding up better than expected.

Nissan may be having a problem in very hot climates with their batteries, the jury is still out on that one. It may mean that more aggressive battery cooling systems will be needed in hotter places.

Aside from a small number of Leaf battery problems I'm not hearing any bad information about cost of keeping a BEV running.


-john McAvoy
A LEAF can be leased for $249 a month today. I've owned one now for 18 months. I have never accidentally run down my battery in 20,000 of driving.

I thought that Nissan was supposed to screen out customers that drive more than 1000 miles/month. Apparently not. The rate of mileage you are putting on will prematurely kill your battery. I hope you have only a 3 year lease because that battery is going to be 50% down in range capacity very soon.

-Kit P
making your own power is just not cost effective

Not with photovoltaics it isn't, I agree. But a 2HP engine running on NG certainly is if the waste heat can be captured for space heating and if about 5Kwhr of lead-acid storage is installed to support peak electrical loads.
The result is perhaps a 20% higher gas bill more than offset by the absence of an electric utility bill.{Honda FREEWATT}

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