Survey: Consumer Interest in Plug-In Vehicles Declining

By · October 31, 2012

Prius plug in

Pike Research's latest annual survey of US consumer demand, preferences, and price sensitivity for plug-in vehicles and electric vehicle charging equipment discovered a slight decline in the fundamental interest in plug-in vehicles between 2011 and 2012.

According to Pike Research, the percentage of survey respondents who identified themselves as "extremely" or "very" interested in purchasing a plug-in vehicle fell from 40 percent in 2011—to 36 percent in 2012. The Internet-based survey of 1,001 US residents, which was conducted this fall, asked consumers questions that were identical to those posed by Pike Research in 2010 and 2011.

Pike Research graph

The latest survey conducted by Pike Research indicates that consumer interest in plug-in vehicles is on the decline.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Consumers often cite insufficient range as a primary reason for their lack of interest in plug-in vehicles.
  • Interest in plug-in vehicles did not differ significantly by age, gender, income or level of education.
  • Early adopters of the latest types of technology were roughly twice as likely to show interest in plug-ins than the average consumer.
  • Familiarity with specific plug-in vehicles varied, ranging from 25 percent to 54 percent, with consumers being most familiar with the Chevrolet Volt

Pike Research also received feedback that one-third of respondents did not agree that plug-in vehicles are much cheaper to own than gasoline vehicles. Also, more than one-third of respondents believe that plug-in vehicle batteries are dangerous and 40 percent of respondents stated that plug-ins often strand their owners when battery power is depleted.

These survey results obviously reveal that consumers aren't well educated about plug-in vehicles, underscoring the need of the EV industry to do a better job of informing the general public.


· · 5 years ago

I suspect we can partly blame Nissan's poor execution of the Leaf for this as well as the bad example set my many of its early adopters. I'm also sure that the forces which have been brought to bear by the anti-EV community, most notably Romney's very public attacks on them, haven't helped the public's desire for EVs either.
This is to be expected in the early rollout of something so upsetting to the status quo as an EV.
Once better suited models become available and prices start to come down and good infrastructure becomes more prevalent, I'm sure popularity will increase.
IIRC, cellphone popularity didn't explode until the prices settled down either. I remember in the early 90's a colleague of mine asking another colleague who had just gotten a cellphone if he was a drug dealer on the side because of the bad stereotypes it's early adopters had left.

· Bret (not verified) · 5 years ago

It's amazing how resistant to change some people are. One guy I know won't switch to CFLs, because he has heard they can burn your house down, even when they aren't turned on. Obviously, the media hasn't been objective in describing new technologies, such as EVs. Coverage from Fox and Top Gear have been shamefully biased.

· · 5 years ago

United States: Resistant to change 'till the very end!

(Yes I do live in the US (Colorado) and I am always disgusted by this fact)

· Volume Van (not verified) · 5 years ago

I dont think so. Sales of Plugins have soared in the recent months and the upcoming C-Max Plugin is better spaced and priced and ranged than Volt & PIP.

If its sales increase, expect more companies to jump into Plugin band wagon.
Also when the Fusion Plugin is launched in spring 2013, Ford will be the 1st company to offer 2 Plugins.

· · 5 years ago

Observation on that circle graph: the 33% that is "Somewhat Interested/Somewhat Disinterested" is the EV version of the Undecided Voter!

Give it a few years and most this group will divide in half and those respective camps will migrate to the "Not Very Interested" and "Very Interested" camps. The precious few left over will be the true EV Undecided. They will be courted, alternately, by EV manufacturers and oil companies. Billions of dollars will be spent on the pursuit of the loyalty of just a few.

Some things never change. :-/

· · 5 years ago

"Consumers often cite insufficient range as a primary reason for their lack of interest in plug-in vehicles."

Yet the Volt, which they say they are most familiar with, has a 380 mile range???

The issue is price, price, and price. There are a variety of vehicles that get 40 mpg on the highway and cost far less than the plug-ins. That's the issue.

· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

Of course. Oil prices have stabilized around $90/barrel. Wait until they head to $120/barrel or so and people will become interested again. Meanwhile, that graph shows there are more than enough potential customers.

· Del Spiva (not verified) · 5 years ago

Maybe Pike research doesn't understand plug-in vehicles? Was the question split into fully EV's and plug-in hybrids?

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

1/3 of an overall market seems like huge penetration to me, and now VW and Delphi execs are also big downers on EV's.

Who appointed these guys as experts anyway? I’m underwhelmed by anything Delphi and VW have done lately, and years ago I was a big VW fan, until they became hard to fix, overly complicated, unreliable, and burned excessive oil.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

I still say another detraction has been the overly complicated charging situation. They could have stayed with NEMA standard devices, at least in North America. But these ridiculous markup EVSE's (the glorified light switches) are just scaring people away. A standard NEMA 5-15 (plain old grounded 110 plug) would be a big comfort factor to something initially confusing. And a Hot Tub ground fault would be good enough for anything more. And an order of magnitude cheaper

· Las Paled (not verified) · 5 years ago

Well I am one of the people that is no longer Extremely or Very interested in purchasing an EV because I bought one in 2012. I wonder how many of their respondents fall in to that bucket.

· · 5 years ago

Not a surprise since we are still waiting for a range extender EV that is not either a parallel hybrid either a super expensive luxury car.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

I bet a lot of people standing in line for gas on the East Coast would be very interested. I am not trying to trivialize their problems.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

It seems a survey can have whatever out come that those controlling the survey are wanting.

If you look at actual plug-in sales, which is primarily the Volt and Prius plug-in, the Volt sales have increased each month since April. Prius plug-in sales have dropped, but it's because the Volt was a better option.

As far as Full EVs are concerned, it's really only the Leaf and Focus Electric. Remember, that the Focus Electric has not have it's full launch until 2013 when Zero marketing on tv or print. Only internet and word of mouth. Ford figured until EV Certified dealers are up in all 50 states, they will wait for marketing.

Look for the lease of the Focus Electric to drop once nationwide marketing kicks in. Right not it's more of made to order.

But now enter the C-Max/Fusion Energi models. With 21 EV miles + 47 hybrid mpg, cheaper than the Volt or Prius Plug-in(only 6 EV miles) Hybrids and more practical than an EV for most consumers, sales should be brisk.

Most people will be able to complete their daily commute on electric alone using zero gasoline.

· · 5 years ago

@Anonymous - minor correction, the C-Max Energi is 43MPG. The C-Max Hybrid gets 47MPG. They are two different cars, and Ford hasn't made the difference clear (they don't advertise the Energi's MPG number). Unfortunately it's a common misconception.

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