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Unplugged: Electric vehicle realities versus consumer expectations

4 Consumer profiles and preferences
6 Range
8 Charge time
10 Price premium
12 Purchase price
14 Fuel price
16 Fuel efficiency
19 Conclusion

Unplugged: Electric vehicle realities versus consumer expectations 1
Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around since the earliest days of the automotive industry. In recent years, however, as the price of oil has risen steadily and concerns about the environment have increased, interest in EVs has intensified.
This interest is coming from a number of sources, including government and industry. Policymakers, automotive executives, and electric utility industry executives are each, in their own way, trying to understand when and where consumers are most likely to adopt EVs and exactly how many may be on the road next year, five years from now, or 10 years or longer from now. As they work together, and apart, in this complicated dance toward the next generation of personal mobility, with profound implications for all parties, it still comes down to the consumer. It is the consumer, looking for a less-expensive, greener transportation alternative with all the performance qualities of a traditional car, whose interest is the most intriguing and perhaps the most complicated. It is the consumer, after all, who will tell manufacturers how close they are to creating a vehicle that has a chance to achieve mass popularity in the marketplace.
With that in mind, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) Global Manufacturing Industry group undertook an extensive global study designed to gauge consumer attitudes toward pure EVs. While the broad category of EVs available today include a variety of hybrid vehicles using some form of both electric motor propulsion and internal combustion engines, this study focused exclusively on the pure electric vehicle. In this way, the study serves to anchor the far end of today’s automotive product offerings and create clarity for all those either participating in the study or interested in the findings. The study was based on a survey of over 13,000 individuals in 17 countries and, in addition to inquiring into willingness and intent to purchase, asked respondents a variety of questions related to the car’s major selling points, including price, range, and charge time.
The survey, conducted between November 2010 and May 2011, revealed that the majority of consumers are either willing to consider the purchase of an electric vehicle or see themselves as potential first movers when it comes to electric vehicle adoption. Potential first movers were those respondents who indicated they were very interested in purchasing an electric vehicle and were likely to purchase or lease a new vehicle of some kind within the next 12 months.
However, deeper questioning revealed a significant gap between consumer expectations of electric vehicle capabilities and what an electric vehicle can deliver today. Consumers generally felt that EVs should be able to go farther, on less charge time, for a cheaper price than automakers are currently able to offer.
This gap—and where it manifests itself most dramatically and where it might be most easily closed—will be of special interest to automakers operating in the electric vehicle space.
This report looks closely at the results of the survey, with special attention to geographical differences and similarities in consumers’ responses. It also provides critical context by contrasting consumer perceptions and expectations with the current realities of electric vehicle technology.
Executive summary
In each of the countries surveyedi, a significant portion of consumers said that they would either be a first mover in the adoption of an electric vehicle or at least might be willing to consider purchasing an electric vehicle. China and India led the world with those considering themselves potential first movers at 50 percent and 59 percent respectively. This was a dramatic contrast to the potential first movers in Japan (4 percent), France (5 percent), Belgium (7 percent), and Germany (9 percent). But when potential first movers are combined with those that might be willing to consider the purchase of an electric vehicle, respondents around the world begin to look more similar than different showing a collective high degree of interest in electric vehicles. Only Japan had the majority of respondents (52 percent) indicate they are not likely to consider an electric vehicle. Europe seems divided, with more reluctance to consider an electric vehicle in Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK and greater receptivity in Spain, Italy, and Turkey. The U.S. and Canada have very similar profiles with a near split between those willing to consider and potential first movers versus those not likely to consider an electric vehicle. Respondents in Brazil and Argentina are much more interested in electric vehicles than their counterparts in North America, while Australia’s respondents tend to look very similar to those in North America. Finally, the Republic of Korea (Korea) and Taiwan have profiles similar to those of the respondents in southern Europe (see Figures 1 and 2).


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