Survey: 42% of Drivers Would Be a Good Fit for Current Generation of Plug-in Cars
The greatest barrier to EV adoption in the United States may not be technology or infrastructure, but public perception. According to a new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, more than four in ten Americans would see their needs met by a plug-in vehicle without altering their driving habits. A full 25 percent would be able to seamlessly switch to a purely electric vehicle.
The study’s criteria for a potential ownership of a plug-in hybrid included access to a parking space with an available outlet, with possible drivers of all-electric cars also required to drive a maximum of 60 miles per day on weekdays and either own a second car or infrequently make longer trips. Nearly seven in ten drivers surveyed drove less than 60 miles per day, though just 56 percent of households were found to have access to a parking spot and electrical outlet.
The Union of Concerned Scientists teamed up with the Consumers Union to survey 1,000 randomly selected adults about their driving habits. Sixty-five percent agreed that EVs are an “essential part of our nation’s transportation future for reducing oil use and global warming pollution.”
So why, if most Americans support electric vehicles and 42 percent would have their needs met by one, aren’t plug-in sales stronger?
Getting the Word Out
In 2011, BMW released an app called EVolve that aimed to teach drivers about electric cars and help them to determine whether they might be a good fit. The app (which was reportedly buggy and is no longer available through the iTunes Store) tracked driving distances and nearby charging stations to show users just how rarely an issue range anxiety would be in their lives if they were driving an EV.
But other studies suggest that range may be a more regular concern for existing EV drivers than you might think. Earlier this year, the California Center for Sustainable Energy released a report finding that 40 percent of electric car drivers were unsatisfied with their cars’ range, with 57 percent saying they would require a range of 150 miles or more to be “extremely satisfied” with their EV.
Regardless of whether plug-ins are a perfect fit for the 45 million Americans estimated by the UCS study, there is undeniably a pronounced gap between that number and the approximately 160,000 or so total U.S. plug-in sales that have taken place since 2010. Certainly, technology, infrastructure and price evolutions will expedite adoption, but incorrect perceptions about how well suited EVs are to our lifestyles are clearly a key stumbling block for many prospective drivers.
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