According to a two new studies from researchers at the University of Delaware, consumers look at driving range, fuel cost, and charging time above other criteria when considering an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid.
The first study surveyed 3,000 people on the national level, and found that drivers are potentially willing to spend more as vehicle performance increases. For example, researchers suggest that buyers would pay an extra $3,250 to compress an hour’s worth of charge time into 10 minutes.
The survey also found that battery costs need to be lowered in order for green cars to be competitive against current gas prices. The researchers noted that the current $7,500 federal tax credit does help battery power be more attractive, but that the incentive alone won’t be enough until battery costs decline to $300 a kilowatt hour, the projected 2014 cost level by the Department of Energy. Many analysts believe that goal is within reach.
Range seemed to be the biggest concern for drivers; in the first survey, people suggested they would need a price decrease of $3,500 if an electric vehicle had a 200 mile range compared to a gasoline car’s 300 miles. Currently, the Nissan Leaf, arguably the best electric car widely available, has a range of only 100 miles.
In the second study, researchers gathered data from gasoline vehicles for a year, and found that 9% never once exceed 100 miles in a single day. The team concluded that if drivers were willing to rent a gasoline or extended-range vehicle only six times every year, 32% of drivers could adequately be served by a car with a 100 mile range.
Finally, the study noted that if roughly 9% of new car buyers, the portion that never exceed a driving range of 100 miles in a day, decided to buy a vehicle like the Chevy Volt, there simply wouldn’t be enough to supply the market. Chevy plans to make just 10,000 Volts in 2011, and Nissan already has a waiting list of 20,000 units it needs to deliver. If 32% of all new cars could be sold toward those that could be properly served by green vehicles, nearly 4 million would have to be produced each year.