Electric Cars Face Mainstream Marketing Challenge

Gartner, Inc.study finds consumer sentiment regarding EVs still positive, but is beginning to show areas of concern.

Published: 31-Mar-2011

STAMFORD, Conn. - U.S. consumer interest in fully battery-operated electric vehicles (EVs) is relatively positive, but the current offerings do not meet most consumers’ practical pricing, usability and cost savings requirements, according to Gartner, Inc.

The analysis of Gartner’s latest EV readiness study conducted in the first quarter of 2011 showed 21 percent of U.S. drivers want to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase — the fourth-highest-ranked powertrain technology choice after gasoline, hybrid and natural-gas-powered cars, and before diesel-powered vehicles. However, nearly one-third of U.S. drivers interested in EVs are not willing to pay a premium price for an electric car, and only 5 percent are willing to pay $10,000 more.

"EVs primarily face a market adoption problem, not an infrastructure challenge, to move from early adopters to mainstream buyers" said Thilo Koslowski, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The ideal EV does not exist yet in today’s automotive market and will likely require another technology generation before it arrives. Consumer sentiment regarding EVs is still positive, but is beginning to show areas of concerns for automotive manufacturers when compared to 2010. EVs must provide better cost-value ratios and convince consumers that no significant behavioral changes are needed before becoming a large-scale, consumer alternative for traditional internal-combustion engine (ICE) and hybrid powertrain technologies"

The survey results showed 22 percent of respondents would be satisfied with a 120-mile range from an EV, and 12 percent would find 30 to 60 miles acceptable. Fifty-six percent of respondents consider a recharging time of four to 12 hours acceptable.

Gartner believes that automotive companies, government organizations and infrastructure providers are too focused on new EV product development and sociopolitical and infrastructure development objectives, but are paying less attention to critical consumer considerations that will determine the success of EVs and e-mobility, especially in the short term.

"Neither traditional nor emerging automakers will be able to afford ’halo’ and first-to-market EV models in the long term on their own" Mr. Koslowski said. "Automotive companies must continue to hedge their bets by increasing collaboration with suppliers and competitors to support a diverse powertrain technology portfolio, consider new pricing models — such as offering battery lease programs, as well as offer connected, mobile applications to improve the customer’s EV ownership experience"

According to Gartner, governments will need to increase funding of consumer purchase programs in order to achieve substantial EV sales in the short term. If the goal is to reduce dependency on oil and address environmental issues, then governments must broaden their policies and funding to include other powertrain technologies that offer reduced energy consumption or consider encouraging the use of public transportation and alternative mobility solutions, such as car sharing.

Infrastructure and service providers are likely the primary beneficiaries of the current EV evolution. Utility companies, in particular, have the opportunity to play a more dominant role in the emerging e-mobility future, because U.S. consumers prefer to have their utilities address their potential EV infrastructure needs.

Gartner maintains its 2009 prediction that in industrialized automotive markets, the number of battery-powered vehicles (plug-in full-electric and plug-in hybrid EVs) as a percentage of all vehicles sold using various types of propulsion technologies will range from 5 percent to 8 percent of all vehicle sales by 2020, and from 15 percent to 20 percent of all vehicle sales by 2030.

"EVs will become one of the design elements in addressing our future transportation needs" Mr. Koslowski said. "Future mobility concepts will consist of diverse powertrain choices and business models that will leverage technology to satisfy consumers’ transportation needs while challenging traditional car ownership"

Additional information is available in the report "Gartner Study: Strategic Market Considerations for Electric Vehicle Adoption in the U.S" In the first quarter of 2011, Gartner surveyed 3,000 adults in the U.S., Germany and China who owned or leased an automobile, using an online panel to analyze consumer preferences, requirements and attitudes regarding EVs and showing how preferences have changed since 2010. Previous-year comparison data is based on a representative EV online panel study conducted by Gartner in the second quarter of 2010 among 2,000 adult vehicle owners. The report is available on Gartner’s website athttp://www.gartner.com/resId=1608732.

About Gartner
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,400 associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

About Gartner:
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,400 associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

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