PEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) have received much attention and support from governments and industry alike and are therefore a potential game changer in the realm of transport fuel technologies. As industry players monitor how the electrification of transport evolves, one of the key fronts to watch is the battle between PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and full EVs. As stated in one of my previous posts, the battle between full EVs and PHEVs will not just be determined by technology, but by consumers’ perceptions and preferences. If drivers do not break out of ingrained habits or alter their perceptions, the popularity of PHEVs could hold back the adoption of full EVs.
Large potential for Plug-in electic vehicles
According to the global survey by Accenture of over 7000 people in 13 countries, 58 percent of drivers are in favor of plug-in EVs replacing conventional cars over time. In reality, today’s cars will be with us for the long haul, not least because of their improved engine efficiency and higher biofuels consumption. Consumers are strongly aware of the emergence of PEVs, but our research shows that they require more information before they are in a position to make purchase decisions.
In the Netherlands, 41% of Dutch consumers consider buying a plug-in EV withing 3 years for their next car purchase. They want to charge at home, at the office, on parkinglots and be free to charge at a time that suits them. They prefer to purchase a car and battery instead of leasing them. They are not in favor of battery swapping. They want to enjoy a similar driving and “tank-filling” experience as they do with today’s conventional cars (powercharging). All these preferences show that convenience, range improvements and charging facilities are key to motivate consumers to purchase a PEV.
“Pilots have shown that preconceptions about convenience and use are cleared when a consumer experience how it feels to ride in an electric car. Moreover, the perception of consumers still need to be changed before all costs can be compared between conventional cars and plug-in EVs.”
- Mark Schütz, Senior Manager at Accenture Netherlands.
Purchase cost: no key factor for Plug-in electic vehicles
The industry consensus is that the purchase cost of PEVs is the main barrier to adoption. The survey results suggest that while purchase cost is a key factor, it is not the only key factor for many consumers today. When consumers make decisions regarding electric vehicles, they place different levels of importance on different components. The most important factor is the cost of charging the battery compared to filling a tank of a conventional car (25 percent). Followed by the availability of gasoline/diesel back-up (24 percent), Charging time for an empty battery (22 percent), The total cost of purchase and maintainance compared to a conventional car (15 percent) and the time when to charge (14 percent). This counterintuitive result may reflect consumers’ preoccupation with other issues that might fade in significance once consumers develop a fuller understanding of PEVs.
Other insights included in the research are:
- Consumers’ preferences for charging PEVs will challenge utilities and charging network providers
- Purchase price is not the only key factor of PEV adoption: utilities, city authorities and service providers will have to address concerns for convenience, range anxiety and the fuel source of electricity
- Consumers strongly prefer plug-in hybrid EVs over full EVs
- Utilities face a retail challenge, as consumers are open to buying charging services from other providers