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Interest in Electric Vehicles Down Since 2010

We have been watching the coverage of electric vehicles (PEVs) pretty closely in recent months. Not least because it has been something of a roller-coaster ride for the industry. A quick read of our related post titles will show you what I mean. California has seen a surge while Toyota has gone as far as to withdraw a model saying it had “mis-read” the market.

Now Pike Research has published a report on information gathered from the buying public during Fall, 2012. They tell us that fundamental interest in PEVs declined among survey participants between 2010 and 2012.

DDOT DC / CC BY-NC 2.0

The first commercially available plug-in electric vehicles were launched in 2010. Therefore you would expect interest to be high, even unrealistically so. By 2012, talk of buying an electric vehicle is real. When you are asked about it you are thinking about real money and a real decision. In 2010, actually buying one was for the super early adopters. Other factors are important with the passing of time. Impressions can now be formed based a wider range of information including first and second hand experience and hearsay. With this comes exactly the mix of fact, real experience and misconception that you would expect.

This report highlights some of those misconceptions and negative attidudes which the EV salesman must encounter everyday on his car lot.

“Interest in PEVs remains moderate but has fallen over the last year. While this decrease is not staggering, it might indicate that auto manufacturers need to address misconceptions among consumers and do a better job of educating consumers about the benefits of PEVs in order to attract buyers in larger numbers.” – senior research analyst Dave Hurst.

Interest 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:

  • 2010 – 44%
  • 2011 – 40%
  • 2012 – 35%

Three attitudes highlighted in the report:

  • 37% do not believe PEVs are cheaper to own over the life of the car than gasoline vehicles
  • 37% believe PEV batteries are dangerous
  • Over 33% believe owners of PEVs are often stranded

The future of alternative vehicles, as with anything which requires mass changes of habit and attitude, is about building trust. Quality R & D, access to reliable facts and figures and clear answers to the understandable concerns of potential buyers.

These issues of price, range and both personal and environmental safety present the industry with an opportunity as much as a challenge. The freedom offered by personal vehicles is a huge attraction. Freedom means range. Range means access to fuel. Huge challenges for the electric vehicle pioneer and challenges which the industry is tackling daily. We should hang in there!

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