EV demand to grow when electric vehicles become more affordable

Despite significant advancements in electric vehicle (EV) technology, 60% of American drivers said they were unaware about electric cars and 80% have never ridden in or driven one, according to new data from Altman Vilandrie & Company’s survey of more than 2500 consumers. However, the survey also finds that a clear majority of consumers who have been inside an EV enjoyed it and many more consumers would purchase an EV if lower-priced models were available.

The survey shows that a perceived lack of charging stations (85%), high costs (83%) and uncertainty over duration of charge (74%) were the top reasons for not wanting to purchase an EV. Three percent of survey respondents said they currently own an EV, while 10 percent said they planning to buy an EV as their next car. 60% of consumers who have experienced an EV say they “enjoyed” the experience, while only eight percent reported not enjoying it.

“While the EV adoption rate is low, there are signs of strong latent demand in the marketplace,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Moe Kelley, who co-directed the survey. “The auto industry still needs to make more low-priced models available to consumers, as well as finding a way for more drivers to try out an EV. If those things happen we should see the EV adoption rate accelerate.”

In analyzing the survey data, Altman Vilandrie & Company discovered that the EV market would grow significantly with the availability of more affordable EVs, specifically at the price point of USD35,000. For example, Tesla, which is launching the lower-priced Model 3 in 2017, would generate up to a five times higher adoption rate at a USD35,000 price tag than the upstart carmaker experienced for the more expensive Model S and Model X. Altman Vilandrie & Company also estimates that the release of less expensive models by all other automakers would boost EV adoption by nearly 24 times the current market.

“Price matters, and our analysis shows that more affordable models would go a long way to changing the perception that EVs are luxury items for the urban elite,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Soumen Ganguly, who co-directed the survey. “Both electric and self-driving vehicles are the future of personal transportation but carmakers need to make sure consumers are excited about going electric now, and that goes beyond the obvious environmental benefits.”

The tepid view of EVs comes in sharp contrast to the building public excitement around autonomous vehicles (AV), which unlike EVs are not yet commercially available. Data released in October from the Altman Vilandrie & Company survey showed that 25% of consumers plan to buy a self-driving car in the future.

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