1994 businessweek cover electric cars are the the futureFascination with plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) has been softening for in the US in the past year, Pike Research found after once again surveying consumers about their interest level and concerns about the practicality of making such as purchase.

Interest in owning plug-in electric vehicles is down from last year's annual survey findings. Those in the "extremely" or "very" interested in purchasing category fell from 40 percent in 2011 to 36 percent in 2012. The survey reached 1,001 US residents and the questions were identical to those asked in 2011 and 2010.

For those surveyed, practical lifestyle concerns were potential deal breakers. Insufficient range was the primary reason for lack of interest in EVs. More than one-third believe EV batteries are dangerous, and 40 percent think plug-ins often strand drivers when battery power is depleted.

As for group demographics, they were no surprising results. Early adopters of the latest technologies are twice as likely to be interested in EVs as the average consumer. Interest in EVs didn't differ all that much by age, gender, income or education level.

Familiarity with the available products varied, with consumers being most informed about the Chevrolet Volt. The practical cost of ownership continues to dampen enthusiasm, with one-third of respondents disagreeing with the statement that plug-in vehicles are cheaper to own than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Consumer passion for these new technologies seems to be waning a bit. The challenge for stakeholders such as automakers will be effectively informing the public. It would also help consumers to have their own test drive experiences and get feedback from more influential stakeholders in their lives – co-workers, cousins, buddies, next-door neighbors – who they see driving a plug-in and who can answer their questions.

Note: the image above (seen better here) is a 1994 BusinessWeek cover that says "Electric Cars: Are They The Future?" Just saying.


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  • 32 Comments
      kEiThZ
      • 2 Years Ago
      Practicality is exactly the issue. Not range. For example, how much would people care about range if every parking spot they used (work, home, mall, grocery store) had a place to plug-in? Honestly, I'd rather see government subsidies going towards building the infrastructure rather than subsidizing vehicle sales.
      Marco Polo
      • 2 Years Ago
      The methodology of these survey's (especially with a sample as small as 1,001) is very dubious. However, it's obvious ( impossible as it is for die-hard EV enthusiasts to accept ), range anxiety is the principle problem in marketing EV's to the general public. The popularity of Prius/Lexus hybrids, and the EREV capability of the GM Volt, has proved the advantages of EV technology with the general public. The biggest motivation in selling any technology, is convenience. EV's, Leaf and iMEV are only convenient vehicles in a limited number of circumstances. OTOH, hybrids have become commonplace, while the latest ICE technology (diesel in Europe) has improved fuel efficiency significantly. Most US citizens, (in fact most of the world) are facing difficult and uncertain economic times. As a result, the introduction of any radically different technology, that takes years to justify, will prove more difficult. In addition, (in many parts of the world), oil prices have not risen as fast as the price of electricity. Other alternate fuel technologies are starting to become competitive. The US will start to see increasing demand for LPG/CNG fueled cars. The big three US car makers, already have models in production to operate as either, dedicated LPG/CNG, or duel fuel. The technology is over thirty years old. Even FCV technology may become viable. These will be the marketing challenges faced by EV makers over the next few crucial years. As interest in the 'Green boom" era fades, so will some of the interest in EV's dissipate. No matter who wins the next US election, the incoming President must focus on short-term economic improvements in the US economy, or the electors will vent their dissatisfaction on his party, in congressional elections. Unfortunately, EV's are a long term economic investment. The key to EV success lies in the development of an energy storage device (ESD) that can economically provide a range in excess of 300+ miles. In the meantime, GM is on a winner with Voltec, and should extend the technology to a 'family' of models.
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Very nice points Marco Polo FYI : GM is extending the voltec platform to a family of vehicles for the 2013 and 2014 model years. Achieving a range of 300+ miles with 80+ kWh's of battery is easy if they automakers make use of ultralight composites like carbon fiber in a design optimized for the least amount of aerodynamic drag possible with low rolling resistance tires and super light wheels ect. GM's 1992 Ultralite was a good example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Ultralite I hate to admit this, but all the automakers are saying that 100kW cheap fuels cells will debut in mass produced mainstream hydrogen fuel cell vehicles within the next 5 years.... Hybrids and plug in hybrids are the more feasible options while fuel prices are still relatively low: and anything less than $10USD/ gal is relatively cheap for the amount of energy in a gallon of fuel. Your also spot on that the statistics in these polls are questionable at best.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Aaron Schwarz
          @ Aaron Schwarz Thank you for your reply, Aaron. Unfortunately, most attempts to build motor vehicles with ultralight composites has not proved economic so far. Nor does the motoring public display any inclination to purchase vehicles designed for the least aerodynamic drag ! It will be easier to develop an ESD that can store more power, faster, (sort of the V8 of batteries) than try to re-educate the world's motorists. Most auto-manufacturers must sell vehicles in relatively large numbers to remain profitable. Maybe FCV's are the answer, or a super battery, or liquid electricity , etc.
        bluepongo1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        My "reference" reply was for Aaron to reread the article not a reply to you. Hopefully your arrogance will allow you to comprehend that everything isn't an attack on you.
      Aaron Schwarz
      • 2 Years Ago
      In other news, consumers are adapting to paying $4/ gal for gas.... and making lifestyle changes to reduce fuel use accordingly.
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        Leaf record sales :) Volt record sales :) Prius family record sales :)
      Turbo Froggy
      • 2 Years Ago
      11M vehicles sold in the US in 2011. http://www.nada.org/NR/rdonlyres/0798BE2A-9291-44BF-A126-0D372FC89B8A/0/NADA_DATA_08222011.pdf 17% Extremely Interested = 1,870,000 19% Very Interested = 2,090,000 Just those two groups alone = 3,960,000 sales, or 36% of all vehicle sales. Data and math is fun!
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Turbo Froggy
        unless you try to get the GOP to understand what you are talking about ..... a bunch of bonners
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      People are paying BMW prices for a GM. The Volt and base 3-series are very comparable in price. The 3er sells more, sure, but the Volt is doing very well for itself.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually, for all the griping. This makes sense. Think about it. If they said, 'in 2 years, they are going to have all electric cars! 2 years! No gasoline! A quick charge and BOOM! On your way! Nissan, Ford, and Chevy will lead the way!' So we all get amped up into a frenzy. So then the cars come out. 'The leaf costs how much? And goes how far? Well, but that Focus will be better, right?' Then....'the focus costs HOW MUCH? And goes 10 miles further? Dag gum it.!' Then, 'the Volt seems good, but for the same price, I can get a low end BMW!' Then come a rash of underwhelming cars. With the exception of the tesla, all underperform compared to their ICE counter parts. Meh. Then look at it like this. Hype. If there were no toasters in the world, and someone invented one, we would all be like, 'WOW! Toasted bread! My eggs are so much better eating them with this......toast!' But although there is no hype or talk for a toaster, we all own them. We must have toast! The point is, 'hype' or 'interest' can be important, but as soon as electrics get closer in price, and closer in range, the metric will change, and people will buy more, regardless of the 'interest' level.
        DarylMc
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        Hi EZEE Re BMW vs Volt I think the value depends on how you want to look at it. BMW has a reputation for driving pleasure and some prestige value. But the Volt has the ability to drive around using largely electricity for power which the BMW doesn't. Is that something which could persuade someone to pay a BMW price for a GM? I think it is an equally valid choice. (the toaster reference reminds me of the Nissan Leaf ad with the gas powered appliances :)
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DarylMc
          I think it tells you something when BMW hires the Volt's lead engineer and is trying to copy the Voltec system for their upcoming EREVs. I have owned BMW, Lexus, Mercedes in the past. I bought cars based on the car, not the brand. Now I own a Volt. Maybe I'll get a Tesla or Fisker next.
      onyerleft
      • 2 Years Ago
      Chevy Volt sets new record with 2,961 sales in October, Nissan Leaf soars to 1,579 Who paid for this "research"...the American Petroleum Institute?
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @onyerleft
        exactly, or the oil funded Norwegian University of Science and Technology....they love to publish anti-ev noise/ junk science/ math
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Aaron Schwarz
          @ Aaron Schwarz Whoa there Aaron ! Surely you jest ! The (founded 1760) is a pretty prestigious, highly respected, public institution located in a nation whose encouragement of EV's is far in advance of any country in the world ! Norwegian University of Science and Technology, collect Nobel prizes the way American colleges collect football trophies !
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Aaron Schwarz
          @ bluepongo1 Thank you for that, reference, however had you read the attendant comments, you might have grasped that the article was not about the report by Norwegian University of Science and Technology, but a columnist for the UK's guardian newspaper's interpretation of the report !
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Aaron Schwarz
          Damn, no edit ! Should read, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology ( founded 1760).
          bluepongo1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Aaron Schwarz
          green.autoblog.com/2012/11/04/norwegian-university-study-exaggerates-downside-of-electric-vehi/
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Aaron Schwarz
          This is why science loves to publish politically correct stuff. Publish something not politically correct, and one hers about it forever. Can you imagine the torches and pitch forks moment if someone found out that global warming is coming on slower than thought? Better barricade the doors....the hippies are coming. A Starbucks has already been burned down...., and the city has banned the carrying of urine and feces.
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      I felt the same way about cell phones when they cost $1000 and got no reception outside big cities. This will all change as battery tech and highway fast charging mature.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tysto
        Heck yes! I wrote my long post above prior to reading yours. Exactly it! Now we all have cell phones. With the exception of the introduction of smart phones, how much interest had their been?
      ArielW
      • 2 Years Ago
      there is a couple simple was to get more people to believe in EVs. For those surveyed, practical lifestyle concerns were potential deal breakers. Insufficient range was the primary reason for lack of interest in EVs. More than one-third believe EV batteries are dangerous, and 40 percent think plug-ins often strand drivers when battery power is depleted. 1) a reality tv show where people have to drive a cross the usa in an EV show how far you can drive and the cost per-mile each team that gets closet to est miles per get bouse points. 2) maybe having mythblaster do crazy things to the batteries are safe. 3) run 1 and 2 on youtube and other sites in real time.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ArielW
        Any reality show with an EV would either be boring, because they plan well and have zero problems recharging, or it would be an over-hyped fear-fest playing upon every nightmare scenario the producers could dream up. Neither sound too appealing. How many times can the producers plan a trip that is 10 miles farther than the range, and have them panic trying to get there? The best way to get the word out about EV's is for people to drive them around and have no problems with them, and show they work great, like over on voltstats. Even better is to blow the doors off of all the gas car fanboy's like Tesla does.
      raktmn
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is the gap between being attracted to all the cool concept electric cars before you could buy an EV, and the actual EV's available to buy today. People used to look at EV's based upon what was coming in the future. Now a lot of people look at just the Leaf and the Volt and that is all they know about EV's. Those numbers show there are still way more people who would like to own an EV than all the EV's built by every manufacture combined. Humans are herd animals. Many will follow well after others lead the way.
      Smith Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      A survey is not much different than a political poll. Political polls always publish the margin of error. Pike research is either lousy at statistics or they are intentionally omitting their margin of error.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        @ Smith Jim Jim, polls, even honest ones, often possess tainted or subjective methodology. This is especially true of polls with small samples. Statistical analysis, is a much more complex method of obtaining evaluations, but still contains elements of unintentional bias or error. The sheer volume of data available with the advent of computers, can make analysis more difficult, as the accuracy of earlier reporting often becomes to difficult to check and verify, and is often taken for granted becoming the basis for new 'studies' and these studies, produce more studies, until the original error is long since forgotten, and becomes accepted as 'scientific' fact ! At best, most of these polls, studies etc, are merely guides to aid your own deductions. At worst they are either dishonest propaganda, or valueless.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          I know! I just read a CNN pole, for example, that had Romney and Obama tied. Here is their sample: Among those likely voters, 41% described themselves as Democrats, 29% described themselves as Independents, and 30% described themselves as Republicans. So...democrat plus 11...and in 2008 Obama won with democrat plus 11. The same pole had Romney ahead by 22 points with independents. 22 points, and the best he can do is tie? (I now, nothing to do with the situation...I am just instigating....)
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why would the interest from the regular (non-informed) public be a little less interested than they were last year and the year before? Maybe because there has been a campaign to discredit EV's and the Volt in politics and the politically oriented news. Now that sales are way up and the cars are getting out there, I'd bet that the general public's interest will come back quickly.
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        Mitt has to trash EV's and their manufacturers, his GOP oil bribery friends have him hooked up to a joystick that they control..... in reality Mitt actually likes fuel efficient vehicles... he just has to sound more Palin like to get the deep right nut jobs to vote for him....
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