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Poll: Electric-Vehicle Range, Price Expectations Vary Wildly

March 19, 2010
Relative to the number of plug-in market choices available now or in the near future, the portion of consumers saying that they would give purchase consideration to EVs is surprisingly high. But responses are also showing that expectations about driving range and purchase price vary wildly.

These are among the findings of a new randomized telephone poll of car-owning households conducted recently by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

One of the most shocking findings of the survey is that more than a quarter of adult respondents said that they would consider an EV, and seven percent said they were very likely to consider one. That's surprising as true mass-production EVs haven't yet arrived.

It's especially worth noting that opinions about vehicles that plug in are more polarizing than most car-shopping priorities. Of those polled, 72 percent were decidedly anti-electric, saying that they would be unlikely to even contemplate an EV purchase. But 63 percent agreed that they'd be more likely to buy an EV if their place of employment offered charging stations.

Among other interesting findings: men have higher range expectations than women, and lower-income consumers expect more range out of EVs. Consumer Reports found that ideally, those polled would like a range of 89 miles (median), though men expected 106 miles and those with lower household income, under $50,000, expected 102 miles.

But again showing how polarized and all over the place consumers are with EV expectations, CR notes, 45 percent replied that they'd be fine with a range of less than 75 miles and 29 percent even thought less than 49 miles was okay. Meanwhile another 29 percent said that they require a daily range of at least 200 miles.

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

At this time, the 2010 Tesla Roadster comes closest to meeting those with high expectations, though appeal is limited for this cramped two-seater and the price is a lofty $109,000 (they've also started leasing them at a somewhat more affordable $1,658 a month). The 2011 Nissan LEAF, which the automaker will begin delivering in select cities as early as this December, promises a range of about 100 miles, as will the 2012 Ford Focus EV. The upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt is the best-suited for now to meet those who need a long driving range; it will run solely on electric power for the first 40 miles, then an internal combustion kicks in to provide a typical gasoline-vehicle driving range.

Automakers might have more of a hurdle with pricing. Those who said that they would consider an electric car would pay a median $2,068 extra versus a standard vehicle—but that group was made up of roughly a fifth saying that they would pay more than $5,000 extra—and a fifth who wouldn't pay any extra.

Visit our companion site Green Car Reports for more information on these vehicles, along with updates on other plug-in and electric-car offerings, issues, and future models.

[Consumer Reports]

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