Unpopular electric vehicles

Posted on 9 Mar 2011 by The Manufacturer

Despite rising fuel prices, the mass adoption of electric vehicles is still some time away, a new study by Deloitte has found.

According to the survey of 4,760 European consumers, only 16% see themselves as potential first movers to buy or lease an electric vehicle, while 53% say they might be willing to consider it, and 31% say they are not likely to consider purchasing or leasing an EV.

David Raistrick, automotive partner and head of manufacturing at Deloitte UK, commented: “There is no doubt that electric vehicles are the future of the automotive industry. However, while interest in electric vehicles is growing, with 69% of respondents willing to consider an EV today, current market offerings generally fall far short of consumers’ expectations for driving range, charging time, and purchase price.

More than 80% of European consumers surveyed said that convenience to charge, range, and the cost to charge were all key considerations when buying or leasing an EV.

Raistrick added: “Range, price and charging concerns need to be addressed. Our research shows that there are specific design targets that manufacturers must reach in order to entice car buyers.

“Three-quarters of European consumers surveyed (74%) said that before they would consider purchasing an EV, they would expect it to be able to travel 300 miles between charges – much higher than what is currently available – and 67% said the battery must take no longer than two hours to charge.

“In the UK, however, consumers consider the ability to travel at least 200 miles between charges to be the tipping point, especially in London and the South East.”

“The automotive industry continues to invest in high end R&D to devise the cutting edge technology required for electric vehicles. It is clear that this innovation is a priority for car manufacturers. I believe there is potential for green vehicles to represent 10% of the new car market within 10 years, although the road to get there will be bumpy. Manufacturers face many challenges, both in terms of actual design elements, as well as changing the mindset of consumers toward electric vehicles.”

The majority (57%) of respondents who say they may be willing to consider an Electric vehicle expect to pay the same or less for an EV than they do for a regular car. Only 24% of the same group say they would be willing to pay a premium. Currently, hybrids and battery electric vehicles represent a tiny fraction of total cars on the road. The adoption of all forms of green vehicles will be significantly influenced by government policies.

Raistrick continued: “For mass adoption, manufacturers will need to meet the challenge of pricing electric vehicles in line with consumer expectations, while still maximising their margins. Consumers are not likely to want to pay a high price premium for EVs. This means that incentives such as tax reductions and exemptions will be very important to the purchase decision. Just like the Government supported the highly successful car scrappage scheme, they should now be turning their attention to electric vehicles.

“However, a bright note for the UK is that it appears from our research that UK consumers are more willing to pay a premium for electric vehicles than their counterparts in other European countries.”