How to Get Consumers Charged Up About Electric Cars

Sell them on the benefits, but not necessarily that electric cars are greener, researchers are finding.

Published: 14-Oct-2010

With the impending launches of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, electric vehicles are a hot topic in the auto category. But are consumers ready to embrace these battery-powered alternatives? According to new research by the Nielsen Co., the answer is both "yes" and "no."

Nielsen found that the majority of consumers in the U.S. would consider buying an electric car. But 65 percent of consumers said they wouldn't pay more for it (compared to a standard vehicle), and 51 percent said they wouldn’t pay more than $5,000 above the average price. (The research firm conducted the study in September among more than 2,300 consumers in the U.S. and U.K.)

So what does this mean for carmakers like Chevrolet and Nissan, which are rolling out electric vehicles this year? They're facing the challenge of convincing consumers to make the purchase, said Sallie Hirsch, svp of research for Nielsen's automotive unit.

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