With its first all-electric cars on the way to the U.S. later this year, Think is trying to get the market fired up about electric cars. Talk of 15-minute charge times and which cities are best suited for electric vehicle (EV) introduction, Think is setting the table as best it can. Today, Think is releasing the results of a customer survey that found people looking to buy EVs "would be willing to accept less than 100 miles range-if the price is right."
A team of MBA students from University of Michigan Ross School of Business asked a total of 367 "potential electric vehicle customers" if a range of 70 to 80 miles would be acceptable if the price of the car dropped by $5,000. About half of the respondents said that was fine. Only nine percent said they'd be willing to pay even less for an EV that can only go 50 miles. On the other end of the spectrum, 55 percent said they'd pay an extra five grand to be able to go 150-160 miles per charge. Other automakers are aware of this, too. Tesla Motors, for example, has said it will offer a range of batteries in the Model S.
When we talked to Think CEO Richard Canny in late March at the Valmet Automotive plant where the Think City is made, he said, "We don't intend to give people a choice between battery A, B or C, for example." He may have been talking about different battery chemistries instead of range capabilities, but Think's idea for the City is to make it simple for the consumer. Paying more (or less) for a longer (or shorter) range isn't too complicated, but it does introduce a variable where the there was none before. In a statement to the press, Canny said this new survey shows that, " Offering different sizes of batteries for different customers is an intriguing idea."
Now, let's conduct our own little survey: would you like an EV with a really short range? How short is too short?
THINK SURVEY SHOWS EV CUSTOMERS WILLING TO TRADE RANGE FOR PRICE
LAS VEGAS, May 10, 2010 – Today, electric car maker THINK released results of a customer survey that suggests potential electric vehicle customers would be willing to accept less than 100 miles range-if the price is right.
One hundred miles range has long been considered a customer requirement for full-functioning, highway-capable electric vehicles. In a survey of potential electric vehicle customers, THINK found that 50 percent of the respondents would be willing to accept 70-80 miles range, if it reduced the cost of the vehicle by $5,000. The online survey was conducted by a team of MBA students from University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
The survey also indicated that potential electric vehicle customers would be willing to pay more for extended range. Fifty-five percent of the respondents indicated that they would pay a $5,000 premium for an electric vehicle with 150-160 mile range. Only nine percent of potential customers said they were interested in reducing their range below 50 miles for a greater discount.
"Offering different sizes of batteries for different customers is an intriguing idea," said Richard Canny. "Customer support for it will likely grow as fast charging technology becomes more widespread."
The THINK City electric car, being sold in Europe today and coming to the United States later this year, has a range of 100 miles on a single charge. The company announced in January that it was working with AeroVironment, a leading developer and supplier of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to promote fast changing project using AV's level III fast-charge system and the THINK City electric vehicle.
A total of 367 consumers completed the survey. Survey invitations were sent to readers of relevant online blogs and forums; THINK's Twitter followers; visitors to the EV Pavilion at the 2010 New York Auto Show; U-M alumni in select cities; and Ross School of Business MBA candidates. Respondents were filtered through a series of screening criteria to include only those who are likely to consider an electric vehicle within THINK's segment. Ninety-four respondents met the criteria and were included in the analysis.
THINK is a pioneer in electric vehicles and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 19 years. It is one of the few companies that are currently producing highway-ready, fully electric vehicles for sale – the THINK City. THINK is also a leader in electric drive-system technology, and was the first to offer a modular and flexible EV drive-train solution in the business-to-business sector. With its Scandinavian origins and sustainability mindset, THINK is one of the most carbon efficient car companies in the world.
THINK has established a U.S. subsidiary – THINK North America, a stand-alone business that will include manufacturing, product development, sales and distribution. The company has an active application before the U.S. Energy Department under the $25-billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program designed to spur development of more fuel efficient vehicles, including pure electric and hybrid electric vehicles. More information about THINK is available at www.thinkev.com.