Study finds consumers ready to plug-in, but prefer the extended range that hybrids offer

(April 26, 2011) BOULDER, Colo. (PRNewswire) — Plug-in electric vehicles may just be entering the market, but most U.S. consumers are ready to buy them according to E Source, which analyzed data from the Nielsen Energy Survey.

While 85 percent of U.S. consumers say they would purchase an electric battery-driven vehicle at some point in the future, 58 percent strongly prefer plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or extended-range electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt.

Only three percent of consumers said they were ready to buy an all-electric vehicle now.

But 57 percent said they would consider one when their current vehicle was ready to be replaced. Another 25 percent said they would consider a purchase when the technology is proven and it becomes more mainstream.

It appears range is the biggest factor in hesitation over the purchase of an electric-only such as the Nissan Leaf.

"We are seeing a substantial willingness for drivers to move to plug-in electric vehicles, but only if the manufacturers can provide the easy extended range of travel that Americans are used to," says Bill LeBlanc, senior advisor at E Source.

E Source also reports that younger drivers are more willing than older drivers to purchase the electric-only cars, and people who describe themselves as liberals are similarly more inclined to desire the all-electric cars than those classified as conservatives.

"We see that all ages and all political mindsets like the plug-in hybrid vehicles equally," says LeBlanc. "But when it comes to the all-electric car, it appears to be seen as more of a 'green' purchase, rather than as a practical upgrade to a more-efficient vehicle."

Another factor that E Source looked at was how far people drive each day and how that affects their desire for a plug-in electric vehicle. Daily driving habits don't seem to affect desire for the all-electric vehicle; however, desire for the plug-in hybrids grows as people spend more time in their cars.

The E Source study examined other variables, including home ownership, type of home, household size, annual income, gender, age, marital status, and ethnicity.