CEA Study: Americans temper EV dreams with range-anxiety nightmares

By KBB.com Editors on August 26, 2010 4:55 AM

Call it progress at a very well-measured pace. A new study conducted online by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) found that over 40 percent of Americans it polled said they would be likely to at least test drive an electric vehicle. However, the date presented in "Electric Vehicles: The Future of Driving (August 2010)" also confirmed that ongoing concerns about the ability to quickly and easily recharge EVs -- either at home or while on the road -- remain serious stumbling blocks for even those most inclined to give them genuine consideration.

Consumers who do find merit in the nascent EV revolution cite positive environmental impact and potential long-term cost savings as key motivators for their support. According to CEA data, 78 percent said the vehicle's ability to run without gasoline is the single greatest advantage, followed by their lower emissions (67 percent) and the elimination of oil changes and tune-ups (60 percent). However, the CEA study also brought one other significant fact to light: while 32 percent of those who responded claimed to have a fair to good working knowledge of hybrids, only a quarter claimed to be well versed in EVs.

Among those who did express skepticism about these zero-emission people movers, the CEA study discovered that half of all responders voiced some form of range anxiety as their primary negative and 34 percent raised issues about real-world battery life. Other notable findings included 71 percent of those polled fearing being stranded by the roadside with a dead battery while 66 percent decried the lack of available charging stations. Finally, 59 percent still find the current range-to-refill distances too limiting for their lifestyles. Hassles with home-charging stations also came under fire, with 51 percent of respondents noting they'd be less likely to consider purchasing any EV if they needed to install special charging equipment for its batteries.

"For a new product category, interest in electric vehicles is strong and likely to grow as more vehicles enter the market and consumers become more aware of them," said Chris Ely, CEA's manager of industry analysis. "Manufacturers, dealers and other sellers will need to emphasize mileage and battery-related specifications when promoting and selling electric vehicles."

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