There will be more drivers in the market for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and electric cars in the next two years than will be rolling off the production lines, according to results from a poll conducted by Ernst & Young.
More than 25% of the 4,000 drivers surveyed across the U.S., Europe, China and Japan said they would consider buying an electric car. Even if only a small portion follow through on a purchase, Ernst & Young said that would be enough to sell out projected 2010 and 2011 production runs.
Despite substantial interest for new car technologies, the overall awareness level is very low, even for established technologies such as the hybrid powertrain. Moreover, in some markets, natural gas cars are better known than PHEVs.
The majority of respondents will not consider a PHEV or electric car until they are well-established in the marketplace.
• Between 7% and 37% of respondents in the developed markets surveyed (all except China) are willing to consider the purchase of a PHEV or electric car as soon as it is available. When considered in terms of the total number of cars in service, these responses are indicative of relatively high volumes.
• 60% of respondents in China show a strong interest in purchasing a PHEV or electric car — nearly five times that of the US, Germany, UK and Japan, which also potentially represents significant volumes.
• 62% of respondents have never heard of PHEV technology or have heard of it but don’t know what it is.
• 40% of respondents have never heard of electric car technology or have heard of it but don’t know what it is.
• More than 60% of respondents say they are not likely to buy a PHEV or electric car until it is well established in the market, highlighting the importance of successful launches among the potential early adopters and sharing these success stories in distinct markets.
• Fuel savings is the most important favorable factor encouraging the purchase of a PHEV or electric car. Other factors, such as environmental impact and government incentives, are not nearly as significant to respondents.
• Battery driving range, access to charging stations and car price are the factors that make our survey respondents most hesitant to purchase PHEVs or electric cars. Several other factors such as performance and handling, reliability, and lack of clear understanding of cost advantage play an important role with various levels of significance across the markets surveyed.
• The vast majority of respondents would prefer purchasing a PHEV or electric car over leasing. Respondents from Europe are slightly more favorable to leasing.
• There is a clear range anxiety among respondents, as 60% believe a battery driving range of less than 100 miles is unacceptable, whereas only 2% drive more than 100 miles a day.
• Willingness to pay for charging stations in their respective communities is higher among respondents than their interest for purchasing PHEVs or electric cars.
• Among the markets surveyed, Japan has the lowest interest for PHEVs or electric cars, with only 7% potential early adopters.
Of the 4,000 respondents interviewed:
• 1,000 were from the US, 1,000 from Europe (equally split between France, UK, Germany and
Italy), 1,000 from China and 1,000 from Japan
• 92% drive less than 50 miles a day
• 83% paid less than $35,000 for their car
• 78% drive less than 30 miles a day
• 4% paid more than $45,000 for their car
• 2% drive more than 100 miles a day[source: Ernst & Young – pdf file]