Survey Notes Americans’ Hopes, Concerns About Purchasing Electric Vehicles


Many Americans are interested in purchasing electric vehicles (EVs), but price remains a large factor, according to a survey conducted by Pike Research. The survey also found that, based on driving and commuting patterns in the U.S., EVs should be a strong fit for a large number of consumers.

Survey respondents indicated strong fundamental interest in EVs, with 40% of participants stating that they would be extremely or very interested in purchasing such a vehicle – assuming the price were right. Only a fraction of consumers currently own a hybrid EV. Out of the 1,051 respondents interviewed, only 4% currently own or lease a hybrid.

Price sensitivity is an issue that looms large over the industry. The survey determined that for a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle that would ordinarily cost $20,000, the optimal price point of a comparable EV would be $23,750, which is a significant price premium. Although this indicates an understanding among consumers that EVs will be priced at a premium, the amount is still significantly less than automakers' intended prices.

A vast majority of survey respondents (80%) also 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 eight to 12 hours to two to four hours.

However, the survey results indicate that pricing is once again an issue: Analyses suggest 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.

Pike Research says it believes these gaps between actual pricing and consumer willingness to pay will be a significant inhibitor of demand for EVs.

Nonetheless, 81% of respondents stated that improved fuel efficiency would be an important factor when purchasing their next vehicle. Pike says this preference should serve as a good foundation for EV demand and could partially offset the negative effects of price sensitivity.

Nearly three-fourths of respondents (74%) drive 40 miles or less to work daily and would, therefore, be well served by a hybrid EV with a 40-mile range, Pike Research says. According to the research group, nearly all plug-in vehicles have been developed to exceed consumers' daily driving distance by providing a minimum of 30 miles of all-electric range under optimal conditions. The exception is the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle, which has an electric range of 15 miles.

When asked which vehicle brands they would consider for an EV, panelists were most
likely to choose Toyota (51%) and Ford (46%), while Chevrolet (42%) and Nissan (33%) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

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