A study recently conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates that about half (52 percent) of Americans view plug-in hybrids as just as good as conventionally powered automobiles – yet only 24 percent would consider buying or leasing one for their next vehicle. The numbers are even more glaring when it comes to pure EVs, with 45 percent responding that electric vehicles were just as good as gasoline-powered ones, but only 20 percent would consider acquiring one.
The obstacles for most consumers appears to be those old stalwarts price and range. According to the NREL survey, 55 percent said that a plug-in electric vehicle is too expensive. Though a narrow majority of respondents reported owning more than one car, 70 percent said they wouldn't pay more than $30,000 for their next vehicle, and 42 percent would pay $20,000 or less. Meanwhile 56 percent said that an EV would need to be able to travel over 300 miles on a single charge.
The Tesla Model S will go about that far in 90D spec (294 miles, officially, says the EPA), but that version costs over $80,000, even after incentives. The forthcoming Model 3 will start at $35,000, but will only travel for about 215 miles before needing to stop. By comparison, the Nissan Leaf starts at just under $30k in 84-mile spec, and over $35k in 107-mile spec.
There is hope, however, that doesn't depend on rapid advancement of battery technology. The study suggests that awareness can also help raise consumers' willingness to consider an EV or plug-in hybrid. Respondents who were aware of charging stations or could name one of the top-selling models were more likely than most to consider purchasing one in the future.