Mass Adoption of Electric Cars Still Some Distance Away

UK consumers more willing to pay premium for electric cars than European counterparts, according to new Deloitte study

Despite rising fuel prices, the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is still some distance away, is the finding of a new study by Deloitte, the business advisory firm.

According to the survey of 4,760 European consumers, only 16% see themselves as potential first movers to buy or lease an electric vehicle, while 53% say they might be willing to consider it, and 31 percent say they are not likely to consider purchasing or leasing an EV.

David Raistrick, automotive partner and head of manufacturing at Deloitte UK, commented: "There is no doubt that electric vehicles are the future of the automotive industry. However, while interest in electric vehicles is growing, with 69% of respondents willing to consider an EV today, current market offerings generally fall far short of consumers’ expectations for driving range, charging time, and purchase price.

More than 80% of European consumers surveyed said that convenience to charge, range, and the cost to charge were all key considerations when buying or leasing an EV.

David Raistrick added: "Range, price and charging concerns need to be addressed. Our research shows that there are specific design targets that manufacturers must reach in order to entice car buyers.

"Three-quarters of European consumers surveyed (74%) said that before they would consider purchasing an EV, they would expect it to be able to travel 300 miles between charges – much higher than what is currently available – and 67% said the battery must take no longer than two hours to charge.

"In the UK, however, consumers consider the ability to travel at least 200 miles between charges to be the tipping point, especially in London and the South East."

"The automotive industry continues to invest in high end R&D to devise the cutting edge technology required for electric vehicles. It is clear that this innovation is a priority for car manufacturers. I believe there is potential for green vehicles to represent 10% of the new car market within 10 years, although the road to get there will be bumpy. Manufacturers face many challenges, both in terms of actual design elements, as well as changing the mindset of consumers toward electric vehicles."

The majority (57%) of respondents who say they may be willing to consider an Electric vehicle expect to pay the same or less for an EV than they do for a regular car. Only 24% of the same group say they would be willing to pay a premium. Currently, hybrids and battery electric vehicles represent a tiny fraction of total cars on the road. The adoption of all forms of green vehicles will be significantly influenced by government policies.

David Raistrick added: "For mass adoption, manufacturers will need to meet the challenge of pricing electric vehicles in line with consumer expectations, while still maximising their margins. Consumers are not likely to want to pay a high price premium for EVs. This means that incentives such as tax reductions and exemptions will be very important to the purchase decision. Just like the Government supported the highly successful car scrappage scheme, they should now be turning their attention to electric vehicles.

"However, a bright note for the UK is that it appears from our research that UK consumers are more willing to pay a premium for electric vehicles than their counterparts in other European countries."

DTTL’s Global Manufacturing Industry group conducted a global survey to explore consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). The online survey captures the views of more than 10,000 consumers across the Americas, Asia and Europe. Within Europe, 4,760 consumers in seven countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and UK – were surveyed from 28 January to 10 February 2011. To qualify for the survey, potential respondents had to be 18 years of age or older and have a driver’s license.

The survey asked respondents how likely they would be to consider buying or leasing an electric vehicle when they buy or lease their next vehicle (assuming that electric vehicles were readily available) and how likely they were to actually buy or lease an electric vehicle. The research analyzed the characteristics and opinions of three groups based on their purchase interest: Potential first movers are consumers who are most likely to buy or lease an EV; Might be willing to consider are consumers who are interested, but less likely to consider an EV; and Not likely to consider consumer who would not be interested in buying or leasing an EV.

Country level data was normalized by the total adult population for each country to be representative of a pan-European demographic sample, adjusting for both differences in sample size at a country level as well as eliminating potential country biases in the computations not represented in the broader European demographic. As a result, countries with larger adult populations (of driving age) had a greater influence and contribution to defining the pan-European statistical results. The overall margin of error for the pan-European results is + 1.4%.