Survey Shows Consumers Want More Plug-in Electrified Vehicle Choices

Data mined from a consumer survey yielded several take-away points regarding the upside potential of plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs).

The survey, conducted from April 1 to April 8 by Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists, was directed at 1,213 licensed and active drivers in nine states in the Northeast, deemed under-served with PEVs, and California, which absorbs the most PEVs.

In both cases a significant percentage of consumers said they would consider a PEV – which the survey loosely termed “electric vehicles” or “EVs,” but included in these were both plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles.

In California, where manufacturers have PEVs uniquely targeted that are not sold in the Northeast, more than 50 percent of respondents were found likely to consider a PEV for their next vehicle purchase, and more than 65 percent are interested in PEVs.

“Many California consumers who might be looking for a new car this summer are primed and ready to purchase an electric vehicle,” said Don Anair, research and deputy director for the UCS Clean Vehicles Program. “These survey results should be encouraging news to automakers who are offering EVs or set to bring new vehicle models to market.”

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In the Northeast, the same survey found 35 percent of drivers are likely to consider a PEV for their next vehicle purchase or lease, and 55 percent have some interest in PEV technology.

“Consumers looking for a new vehicle this summer are thinking more about the many benefits of driving on electricity,” said Josh Goldman, lead policy analyst for the UCS Clean Vehicles Program. “More than 65 percent of survey respondents want to see automakers offer more electric options across a variety of classes, including sedans, SUVs and minivans, and over half think that every automaker should offer a plug-in model for sale.”

As Goldman noted, among the respondents, a significant percentage also expressed desire for more models in any case – including sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and minivans.

Today there are scant choices if any, and no plug-in pickup trucks sold by a major manufacturer to consumers.

It has long been shown larger vehicles stand to save much more fuel and emit much less greenhouse gas if made more efficient versus electrifying smaller vehicles that were already relatively efficient to begin with.

As it is, the survey found more than 65 percent of respondents want automakers to offer more electric options across a variety of classes.

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Certainly also, they can make use of them. The survey determined this by verifying they had a place to park and plug in. This is not always the case in some urban regions with on-street parking, for some apartment dwellers, and others who cannot be assured a place to park consistently and plug in each night.

Also checked was that respondents needed to carry only four or less passengers, and did not need to haul or tow.

Among respondents fitting these criteria, more than 4 out of 10 households in the Northeast and 44 percent in California could use a PEV with little or no change to their driving habits and vehicle needs.

A statement issued by the Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists added also that better polices were needed

Automakers and state officials can also do a better job of letting drivers know about existing EV incentives. More than three quarters of California drivers didn’t know the state offers any plug-in electric vehicle incentives, and almost 80 percent weren’t aware of the federal EV tax credit. Together, these programs can lower the purchase price of a plug-in vehicle by over $10,000. Education about incentives is especially important as nearly 13 percent of respondents identified costs as a main barrier to purchasing an EV.

Significant also is the results showing greater acceptance in California correlated to availability of PEVs in that market.

For example, since the beginning of this year, Edmunds.com showed only 1,744 new PEVs available in and near New York City, and only 733 were available in the Boston region.

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By contrast, over the same time period, PEVs within 50 miles of Oakland, Calif. added to over 5,800 options, and 8,200 PEVs were in the Los Angeles area.

Last year California accounted for around half of the country’s sales.

On the other side of the country, the survey shows people would consider what is sold, and more models if they were offered.

Additionally, more than 88 percent of respondents said they would not buy a vehicle without a test drive.

UCS