Survey Says

March 21, 2011  

A recent survey by IBM’s Institute for Business Value asked 1,716 U.S. drivers what would motivate them to switch from using a gasoline, diesel or hybrid vehicle to an electric-only vehicle. They also asked 123 auto industry executives to rate the importance consumers place on each choice.

The results are summarized as follows:

Drivers Executives
Innovative pricing models or lower price overall 71% 81%
Extended reach or range of the vehicles 64% 63%
Convenience of usage or services 63% 60%
Availability of charging infrastructure 62% 65%
Significantly higher oil prices 51% 76%
Green image or sustainability concerns 48% 33%
Government incentives or regulations 41% 73%
Traffic congestion 26% 11%

Although it’s surprising that, for the most part, consumers and auto execs are on the same page, what’s more surprising is that fewer than half the drivers were motivated by greenness and sustainability.

Isn’t that the whole point of electric-only vehicles? No emissions? Cleaner air? Other than that, what is the attraction to vehicles that are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, have smaller ranges and need expensive home renovations to convert garages and carports into recharging stations?

For one thing, operating costs are lower because electric vehicles are mechanically simpler and electricity is cheaper and more efficient that gasoline, but op costs weren’t even mentioned in the survey results. Hopefully, all the respondents were motivated by environmental concerns, but only 48 per cent said so.