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Study: Most Clueless About Electric Vehicle Subsidies

Similar to the old “if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods” question, if government incentives to encourage the purchase of plug-in vehicles are offered, but no one knows about them, do they make a difference? A research team at Indiana University conducted a survey that shows not only are consumers unaware of available subsidies, rebates and other benefits — financial and otherwise — to owning a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, that disconnect could be keeping sales of the zero-emissions electric vehicles from reaching White House goals.

The survey of more than 2,000 drivers in 21 of the largest U.S. cities showed that 95 percent of respondents didn’t know about state and local subsidies, rebates and other incentives available for battery-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt. Three-quarters were uninformed about the savings in fuel and maintenance costs of plug-in electric vehicles; a majority also lacked info about purchase price and driving ranges. As a result, consumers will not shop for plug-in electric vehicles when it comes time to buy a new car, researchers stated.

“If car buyers have false perceptions about the advantages of PEV ownership, they’re also unlikely to pay attention to communications about the incentives, further complicating the challenge for governments and industry,” according to the report.

Researchers noted that President Barack Obama’s previously stated (though later softened) objective of having a million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 is only a fraction of the way there. “That’s despite federal consumer tax credits of as much as $7,500, subsidized installation of recharging stations, and numerous state and local financial incentives, along with favored access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes and city parking,” the report stated.
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