Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do…

chevyvoltAn article last week in the NY Times noted that “electric cars [are] sparking little buyer interest.” The article noted that most consumers are misinformed about electric cars in two ways that are negatively impacting sales:

  1. Consumers are unaware that the price premium for an electric car is as high as it is. This could be a good thing as it potentially causes more buyer interest. However, it seems to be having a negative effect of “sticker shock,” which is believed to be causing consumers to walk out of the show room because the price is so much higher than they expected.
  2. They are also unaware of the substantially lower costs involved with “fueling” these vehicles. People apparently believe the electricity costs for recharging are much higher than they actually are, which actually result in a 70%-80% fuel savings.

One would expect electric cars to be selling better than they are. However, some (many) people are also concerned about driving distance between charges. This should not be a problem given the median distance traveled per day is only about 28 miles (well below the distance an electric car can travel on a single charge). However, it appears that people buy cars based not on regular use only, but also occasional use. How many of us have 4-wheel drive vehicles (for which we paid a premium) and rarely, if ever use that 4-wheel drive feature?

When they looked at where electrics were doing relatively well, they found it had to do with people who already had a hybrid and/or were conservation minded. It would seem the industry needs to do a lot more explaining, and to remember that in research surveys, people often answer an intent to take action question based on what makes them appear smart or good, and not what they will actually do in real life.



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