Alternative Fuel and Transportation

Published on September 20th, 2009 | by Jennifer Lance


Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey: 48% of Consumers Would Buy a Plug-in Hybrid

As my car ages and needs many repairs to keep running, I am anxiously awaiting the development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Apparently, I am not alone. According to the “Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey” conducted by Pike Research, 48 percent of consumers said they are “’extremely’ or ‘very’ interested in purchasing a PHEV with a 40-mile range on a single charge”. The Denver Business Journal explains:

Plug-in hybrids have a greater battery capacity than factory-built hybrid cars that don’t plug in, and generally offer greater gas mileage. Plug-in hybrids are not yet widely sold in U.S. dealerships, but are expected to be offered starting as early as next year.

Pike Research projects that by 2015, 600,000 PHEVs will be sold in the U.S.

Photo by argonne national laboratoryAlmost half of consumers want a PHEV

Almost half of consumers want a PHEV

In summary of the results, the “Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey” found that 82% of those surveyed drive approximately 27 miles daily, making the 40-mile range PHEV fit perfectly into their driving habits.  Pike Research estimates the cost for recharging a PHEV would equate to about 75 cents per gallon.  Other key findings include:

  • 85% of consumers stated that improved fuel efficiency would be an important factor when choosing their next vehicle.
  • 79% of consumers would be interested in investing in a fast-charging outlet for their home; however, willingness to pay is out of line with industry expectations.
  • 65% of survey respondents interested in PHEVs expressed a willingness to pay a premium price, over and above the price of a standard gasoline vehicle, with an average premium of 12%.
  • Consumers indicated that the availability of workplace, private, and public vehicle charging stations in their local area would be very important.

Of the respondents, those most likely to want a PHEV were younger and more educated, but the difference was insignificant leading Pike to believe plug-ins would appeal to the mass market. Last year, a study by JD Power found similar results, with 72 percent of consumers expressing interest in hybrid-electric technology.  This number dropped to 46 percent after consumers were told the PHEV would cost about $5000 more than a standard vehicle.

Considering the willingness of consumers to buy PHEVs, it’s too bad they weren’t already on the market when the government ran its hugely successful “Cash for Clunkers” program.  The positive effects of this program on the environment would have been much greater if the required cars for purchase were PHEV, instead of destroying a fleets of cars in exchange for cars with little mpg improvement overall.  Perhaps when PHEVs finally reach the US market, the Obama administration will provide additional incentives to consumers.

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