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Drivers and Barriers to Electric Vehicle Adoption

Part one of a three part series by the founder of the Sustainability Group.

By Matthew I. Slavin, PhD

My firm Sustainability Group recently surveyed EV professionals on expectations for EV sales in 2014, the main drivers of consumer purchase of EVs and barriers to EV adoption, and what types of government policies are most effective in accelerating the pace of electric vehicle deployment. Of 207 surveyed online in October, 113 responded, a very high 54.5 percent response rate indicative of a highly engaged EV stakeholder community. All of the respondents were verified as working in the EV space in either executive, management, engineering and technical, or marketing or sales capacities.*

Here’s what these EV insiders think about the main drivers of and barriers to EV adoption. I’ll report on insider’s views on policies to move the EV market and sales performance expectations and what this means in terms of strategies for expanding the EV market in the U.S. over the coming month here at EV World.

MPGe - Bottom line fuel cost savings is the main driver of the decision to purchase an EV

Asked about the single-most factor that drives consumers to purchase an electric vehicle, insiders overwhelmingly point to high miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) fuel economy and implicitly, savings derived from not purchasing petroleum transportation fuels. About 60 percent of the electricity that powers an EV is converted to propulsion energy compared to about 20 percent of the energy stored in gasoline. Hence when powered by electricity, vehicles are much more efficient than vehicles fueled by petroleum, with higher fuel economy resulting.

As the chart shows, 69.8 percent of the survey respondents think fuel economy is the main driver of a decision to buy an EV. About 13 percent point to a “feel good quality” as the most compelling reason why people purchase EVs and 10.5 percent point to environmental concerns: low- and zero tail pipe emissions. Very few point to a love of new technology or reducing U.S. oil imports.

According to EV insiders, when it comes to consumer decision-making, it’s the bottom line – higher MPGe and associated fuel cost savings - that most drives the decision to purchase electric drive vehicles.

Main Driver to EV Purchase

Vehicle cost is the single biggest barrier to Plug-in EV market growth

Earlier this year the National Research Council of the National Academies released a report on the barriers to electric vehicle deployment. The report pointed the cost of EVs, consumer unfamiliarity with EV technology and the EV driving experience, charging infrastructure deployment, and concerns about driving range as barriers but did not rank these factors in terms of the degree to which each impedes growth in the EV market. So what is the biggest barrier to expanded purchase of electric drive vehicles?

EV insiders see the high cost of purchasing plug-in EVs as the single most imposing barrier to EV sales growth: 46.3 percent of survey respondents pointed to vehicle costs. With 27.5 percent of survey respondents pointing to range anxiety as the biggest barrier to purchase of EVs, driving range ranked second, followed, at 21.3 percent, by concern about access to charging infrastructure. Five percent of survey respondents pointed to plug-in EV charging time as the key barrier to growth in EV sales. Survey respondents do not see electricity cost as impeding consumer purchase of electric vehicles.

Main Barrier to Purchasing EVs

* Survey respondents were confirmed as working in the noted capacities in the EV space based on the profiles they had posted in a number of EV groups active on the business social networking site LinkedIn.

Matthew Slavin, Ph.D. is president of Washington D.C.-based Sustainability Group, focused on sustainability, clean energy, and alternative fueled vehicle and advanced technology transportation. Contact him at matt@sustaingrup.com.

Times Article Viewed: 8324
Published: 03-Dec-2013

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