The capabilities and features offered by today’s electric vehicle models fall short of customer expectations, especially in terms of vehicle range, recharge time, and purchase price. That is the key finding of a national survey of adult American drivers, recently conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. The report helps explain why electric vehicle sales have largely failed to meet manufacturers’ sales expectations to date. At the same time, the study revealed that the outlook for the electric vehicle market is improving, as millennials report great interest in electrics, and as electric cars prove themselves to be a viable option for the half of the US drivers who claim to drive fewer than 500 miles per month. Raghavan Mayur, Founder of TechnoMetrica, stated that in spite of the slow sales development, the electric vehicle will find a significant place in tomorrow’s car market.

“As gas prices continue to climb and the environmental movement strengthens, there is a growing interest among consumers for alternate fuel vehicles,” stated Mayur. “Electric vehicles in particular, while currently not high in the consideration set of consumers, should be able to benefit from the rising interest in alternate fuel vehicles, and among those people who drive fewer than 500 miles per month.”

The survey, which was undertaken for the primary purpose of gauging consumer interest and expectations regarding electric vehicles, found that while only 6% of American drivers reported currently owning an alternate fuel vehicle, a majority of respondents (53%) said they would be interested in purchasing some type of alternate fuel vehicle. Although overall consumer interest in EVs is currently low, there are indications that its popularity will rise in the future, as a relatively high level of interest already exists among millennials, and as manufacturers continue to improve EV technologies and make them better able to satisfy consumer expectations and remove price barriers.

As to fuel efficient vehicles in general, nearly a quarter of respondents, 24%, are considering or have considered adopting some form of a fuel efficient vehicle, either by trading in their current vehicle or by merely adding a new fuel efficient auto. Consideration of fuel efficient vehicles is highest among consumers earning $30k-$50k in income, at 37%, and the 18-24 demographic, which holds a share of 34%. Parents and female drivers also consider fuel efficient vehicles at a higher rate than the average rate: 32% of parents and 27% of the female demo are considering or have considered acquiring this type of vehicle.

TechnoMetrica also asked drivers about their interest in other alternate fuel vehicles they would likely consider for their next new auto purchase. The survey found gasoline-electric hybrids to be the most popular choice among consumers, with nearly one-third (32%) reporting that they would be interested in purchasing this vehicle type. Natural gas-powered vehicles came in second with 22% of drivers stating their interest. The plug-in hybrids finished fourth with a share of 19%. Just under two in ten (18%) prefer diesel as their alternate fuel vehicle of choice and just 17% indicated EVs.

It is interesting to note that drivers are quite willing to consider natural gas vehicles, though very few are currently offered. Further, diesel powered autos, which have been around for decades, have failed to gain significant increases in consideration over the years. Consumers appear to have little passion for pure electric vehicles, but manufacturer’s need to produce them to deal with the increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements mandated by the Government.

“In measuring consumer expectations regarding the specifications and features of electric vehicles, our research indicates that they appear to be at odds with what is being offered today,” Mayur explains. “For example, the mean range for a single charge that consumers would prefer is 271 miles, but the EVs available today have a range of between just 100-200 miles. The average battery recharge time that drivers consider acceptable is 2.74 hours, yet today it takes between three and twenty hours for a recharge. If gasoline prices were to break $5 per gallon, more than half of drivers would consider purchasing an electric vehicle. And honestly, price is still an issue with a plurality of consumers (62%) expecting to pay a purchase price of less than $20k, with a mean rate of $18k.”

In spite of today’s problems, the overall outlook for the electric vehicle market is likely to get brighter. A number of automobile manufacturers are working on ways to improve their technology in order to better match consumer expectations while reducing costs. Some, for instance, have advanced measures that aim to improve battery technology, help enable cars to drive farther on a single charge, and to make charging equipment available in more places. Furthermore, the survey revealed that over half of adult American drivers typically drive less than 500 miles each month. Accordingly, TechnoMetrica views this as a sizeable segment of potential buyers of EVs. If you also add into the mix persistently high gas prices and increasing environmental concerns, you end up with a situation that looks very promising for the future of electric vehicles…if you can wait for consumer demand to develop.

About TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence:

TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence Inc. is a leading full-service research firm established in 1992. The firm, headquartered in Ramsey, New Jersey provides both quantitative and qualitative research solutions to the business and government markets. TechnoMetrica has been providing innovative research solutions to many of the world’s most respected automotive brands for over a decade. In partnership with Investor’s Business Daily, TechnoMetrica conducts IBD/TIPP polls, including the nationally-recognized IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index. IBD/TIPP was the most accurate pollster in both the 2008 and 2004 presidential elections, according to final FEC-certified results of those elections. TIPP is also the polling partner of The Christian Science Monitor and the Monitor/TIPP polls regularly appear in the paper.

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