Thursday 27 July 2017

Electric cars turn on driver interest

Despite our interest in electric cars, like Nissan's Leaf, it'll be some time before we all buy one, according to new research.
Despite our interest in electric cars, like Nissan's Leaf, it'll be some time before we all buy one, according to new research.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

We have a lot of interest in electric cars - but many of us don't see ourselves buying one for quite a while, according to a major new European survey.

Consulting firm Deloitte surveyed 4,760 consumers across the EU. Nearly one-third (31pc) said they would not consider buying one but 16pc did. Most (53pc) had an open mind on the matter and said they "might be willing to consider" an electric vehicle.

The researchers also asked what potential buyers considered to be important factors in the decision to lease or buy an electric vehicle.

They got a bit of a shock because expectations differed from what today's electric vehicles could offer.

Almost three-quarters (74pc) said they would expect an electric vehicle to have a 480km range -- that's 300 miles in old measurements -- before they would consider buying one.

As matters now stand, the best of the current crop, such as the newly arrived Nissan Leaf, can do way less than half that before needing a charge. Manufacturers argue, and with a lot of statistics to back them up, that most motorists cover far fewer kilometres in a typical day than the range of their electric vehicles.

Two-in-three consumers (67pc) also expected battery charging to take no longer than two hours. Most current vehicles can get a major boost from a short charge but usually need overnight for a full charge.

And, of course, price is a key element in decision making. The survey found that most (57pc) who might consider an electric car would want it to cost much the same as, or less than, a petrol or diesel equivalent. A mere 6pc would consider a price premium of €3,000 or more.

While the survey might seem to suggest there is a long way to go on electric vehicles, there are strong indications that more people are looking at them as an option.

Obviously 'range anxiety' remains a major psychological obstacle but, by all accounts, that will be addressed over the next few years as battery technology and charging infrastructure improves exponentially.

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