NREL Asks Consumers What it Will Take to Purchase an EV

It may be that 200 miles per charge isn’t the barrier to break for electric vehicle mass adoption – it could be 300.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab just released a study on what U.S. consumer think about plug-in electrified vehicles. A pure electric vehicle, the study found, would need to be able to go 300 miles once charged for 56 percent of the survey respondents to be willing to consider purchasing one.

For what it is worth, these findings run contrary to independent research in California cited by GM engineers last week indicating 70 percent of would-be buyers said 200 miles range would be enough to make a battery electric car their only vehicle. That data however was from the hotbed of EVs which today accounts for 54 percent of PEV purchases nationwide. That research credited with partially justifying the Chevy Bolt’s development was from a few years ago as well, and the national NREL study is more recent and comprehensive.

NREL conducted a telephone survey in February 2015 study that interviewed 1,015 U.S. consumers at least 18 years old. The study looked into vehicle purchasing behavior, EV awareness, and barriers to EV acceptance.

Among PEVs, survey respondents tipped a little bit toward plug-in hybrids. Twenty-four percent said they would consider or expect to purchase a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for their next purchase or lease, while 20 percent would do the same with pure electric vehicles.

For EV fans, the Tesla Model S has been the most popular electric car to purchase lately. For survey respondents, it came in third place in their awareness of available product. When asked to name any EVs that they knew of, respondents answered with a mix of pure EVs and plug-in hybrids. Twenty percent named the Chevrolet Volt, 18 percent the Toyota Prius Plug-In, 14 percent the Model S, and 10 percent the Nissan Leaf.

SEE ALSO: What Makes More Sense – All-Electric Vehicles or Plug-in Hybrids?

Survey respondents do see the gains in owning an EV for environmental and economic reasons. For those considering buying an EV, 93 percent would do so for saving money on fuel costs, 92 percent think it’s better for the environment, and 75 percent say it’s better for national security. As for what’s blocking them on owning an EV, 55 percent think they are too expensive, 34 percent say they are not available in the segment they’re considering, and 31 percent think that the technology is not dependable.

Incentives will continue to play a significant role in their purchase considerations. Along with the electric car being too expensive, 70 percent expect to spend $30,000 or less and 42 percent expect to pay $20,000 or less.

Availability and awareness of public charging stations also play a role in whether to purchase an EV. Only 18 percent of the respondents were aware of any charging stations that were on the routes they drove regularly, at their places of work, or at the stores and places they frequented. Seventy-nine percent weren’t aware of any available charging stations.

National Renewable Energy Lab