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Harris Poll Finds Electric Vehicle Interest On The Rise

A Harris Poll of 2,240 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 8 and 13, 2013 found electric cars are beginning to post impressive numbers.

Recently the 100,000th plug-in vehicle was sold. And last year, roughly 440,000 cars deriving some degree of “go” from a battery—including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and cars running on electricity alone—were sold in this country, with approximately 50,000 of them being pure electrics.

Those are big numbers, but it’s important to look at them with an equally big dose of perspective. With roughly 14.5 new million cars and trucks sold in the U.S. last year, combined hybrid sales of roughly 390,000 vehicles represent 3% of total sales; those 50,000 pure electrics? About 0.3%. But with more and more manufacturers producing battery-propelled vehicles of one kind or another, and fuel prices showing no sign of falling, many anticipate continued growth for the sector. The Harris Poll set out to gauge Americans’ interest in electric and other higher-mileage vehicle offerings.

Harris Interactive has been tracking consumer consideration of both hybrid and pure electric cars for some time via its Harris Poll AutoTECHCASTsm study, with results echoing findings from this poll.

“Consideration has been on the rise over recent years for traditional hybrids, while other electric car segments—though showing points of growth—have been more sporadic in their gains,” explains Mike Chadsey, vice president, solutions consultant at Harris Interactive.

When asked which of several improved-efficiency vehicle types they would consider the next time they are in the market for a new vehicle, nearly half of American car owners (or anticipated owners) indicated that they would consider a traditional hybrid (48%), while nearly four in ten (38%) would consider a smaller and/or less powerful gas-powered vehicle. Just over one-fourth (27%) would consider a plug-in hybrid, two in ten (19%) an electric vehicle and 16% would consider a diesel vehicle. Roughly four in ten (41%) indicate that they would only get a vehicle with lower operating costs if they could do so without changing their driving habits or expectations.

Echo Boomers (ages 18-35) are significantly more likely than either Baby Boomers (ages 48-66) or Matures (ages 67+) to consider a traditional hybrid or a smaller and/or less powerful conventionally propelled vehicle, and are more likely than any other age group to indicate that they would consider a plug-in hybrid or an electric.

Men are significantly more likely than women to indicate that they would consider a plug-in hybrid (34% men, 21% women) and an electric vehicle (25% men, 14% women) and three times as likely to indicate that they would consider a diesel (24% men, 8% women).

An interest in electric cars was more than 40% higher among those in households with three or more vehicles, when compared to those with one or two (26% among those with three or more, 18% among those with 1-2). Perhaps knowing you have a couple of backup vehicles in the bullpen for those longer trips eases the range anxiety many associate with electric cars.


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