Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

Summary: Just 4 percent of more than 13,000 Deloitte survey respondents are satisfied with electric vehicle technology specifications, especially charging options and driving ranges.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

This week, seven of the auto manufacturers with a vested interest in the electric vehicle market got together to say that they will standardize around a combined charging approach that will let their electric vehicles share the same fast-charging stations in Europe and the United States.

Those companies include the usual suspects: Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen. They plan to use HomePlug GreenPHY as the communications protocol (so keep an eye out for information about that technology specification, which is relevant for how charging stations talk to the broader smart grid). You'll notice some big names missing from this list, such as Honda, Nissan and Toyota, which is worth a whole post in itself but really isn't the point of this particular entry.

The fact that at least seven of the companies with electric vehicle aspirations are getting together to help standardize the charging infrastructure is significant, especially given the results of a survey released this month by Deloitte. The study (detailed in a report called "Unplugged: Electric vehicle realities versus consumer expectations") suggested that consumers are unwilling to compromise on the performance they have come to expect in gasoline-powered vehicles. That means they aren't willing to accept shorter traveling ranges, higher sticker prices or the inconvenience of having to wait for hours while their car charges.

The study covered the opinions of more than 13,000 consumers from 17 countries in Asia, Europe and North America. The most shocking piece of data, perhaps, is the finding that no more than 4 percent of consumers are satisfied with what electric vehicle manufacturers have made available. Here are some of the findings that are working against them:

  • Even though most people have a daily commute of less than 50 miles, the majority of the survey respondents want electric vehicles to have a range of at least 300 miles. In the United States, as an example, 63 percent of the respondents said they would be satisfied with a range of 300 miles. Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practices leader for Deloitte notes: "The paradox here is that current technology targeted at the mass market can usually accomplish a range of 100 miles between charges, which is twice as far as the typical American drives each work day." Incidentally, people in France were also likely to have range anxiety.
  • Waiting more than two hours for a charge is unacceptable to almost 60 percent of Americans. In fact, almost one-quarter of the U.S. respondents wanted a 30-minute charge time. It wasn't just Americans who were interested in faster charging. In Japan, for example, 37 percent cited 30 minutes as the longest acceptable charge time. So, electric vehicle manufacturers have a very long road ahead of them in this regard.
  • They are not inclined to pay more. More than half of all survey respondents said that any kind of price premium for an electric vehicle was unacceptable. Indeed, the report indicates that 78 percent of respondents from Argentina and 74 percent of respondents from India expect electric vehicles to be the cheapest options on the market. The majority of respondents expect to pay no more than $30,000 for an electric vehicle, according to the report.
  • Major improvements in fuel efficiency would kill interest in electric vehicles. As go gasoline prices, so goes the interest in electric vehicles. Higher prices per gallon spur interest, while lower prices tend to distract. Efficiency is potentially more important. Approximately 57 percent of the respondents and China and 68 percent of the respondents in the United States said they would be less likely to think about an electric vehicle as fuel efficiency approaches 50 miles per gallon. In fact, interest "falls off the cliff," in the words of one of the Deloitte report's authors.

Right now, there is a big disconnect between electric vehicle consumer expectations and the realities of the technology. Which brings us back full circle to that charging technology cooperation announcement from earlier this week. The automakers are smart to get together on research and development whenever they can, as it relates to alternative transportation technologies. Or electric vehicle adoption will be permanently stuck in neutral.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

    I shall be acquiring the 3rd generation electric Smart when it goes on sale next year. This is because its range will be sufficient for my round trip, (78 miles), but more importantly, London has a number of concessions for electric vehicles that will make changing from my current diesel Smart well worth the change. Parking costs will drop from ??2,100 to ??271 per annum, electricity is free at the charging points but even if it wasn't, my fuel costs would drop from ??9.50p per day to around ??2 for electricity. The overall savings could be ??3,600 per annum. OK, this is not a long distance family car, but then we have a Mercedes for that. The point here is that it is convenient to have two family cars, but unnecessary to have two large ones. The alternative to a Smart is hybrid or EREV technology like the Chevvy Volt/Vauxhall Ampera but these are very expensive vehicles just to use for commuting.

    And that, surely, is the whole point?
    • Lucky you!

      @MarkCJClemence <br>We are stuck with premium unleaded Smarts in the U.S.<br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/sad.gif" alt="sad"><br>I agree! 2 vehicles are required in a typical Texas family situation. EV for daily commute, fossil fuel for long trips.
      PS: Toyota, Honda, and the others will be forced to adopt the charging standards!
      • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers


        .... Toyota, Honda, and the others will be forced to adopt the charging standards ....

        That's what the BetaMax makers used to say.
      • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers


        .... We are stuck with premium unleaded Smarts in America ....

        I saw one the other day here: http://graphics1.snopes.com/photos/accident/graphics/smallcar.jpg

        Only one of a hundred reasons - including distances and cheap gas - not to own one in America.
  • I'm interested when

    I'm all in for electric when they have an honest 100 mile range with a "we pay the tow if it doesn't" type of warranty.

    Since I have an 80 mile commute and do mostly contraflow freeway driving I'm very satisfied with my Honda Civic hybrid and its honest 40mpg (bit less in the peak of summer when the A/C has to run a lot).
    • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

      Why would I want to get a Honda Civic hybird when my 2010 Honda Civic gets 38 MPG highway.
      • How many mpg for what driving?

        Probably wkulecz's honest 40 includes surface streets so it is not "highway." My 45 mile r/t (plus any lunch, errands, etc) in SanFran Bay Area is so traffic-filled at both ends that is drives my Insight's "honest" mileage to about 46 mpg. when I can actully do highway driving (and keep my speed down) I roll into the mid-50's.
  • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

    I like the idea of the electric vehicles but they need to be more practical. They can get you to work and back and that is fine but the problem is when people want to get away for a 3 day weekend and drive somewhere. That's when the 100 mile limit comes in and no charging stations. It would be very hard to pull such a trip unless you want to buy a second car or rent a car which is going to cost more money.
    • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

      @LoverockDavidson_ : Right on - people are still not willing (or able) to consider multiple vehicles for multiple applications. (AND today's economic conditions make that even more impossible.) Every news coverage or press release I've seen for electric cars accentuates "it's a great commuter car".... BUT to succeed it must be usable for EVERY need, not just commuting!
    • Re: calculation of relative economy

      In your scenario of having only a single electric car providing all transportation, longer trips (e.g. the 3-day wkend) could be addressed by: advanced planning (routing to take advantage of available charging points - visiting friends and family in addition to commercial charging stations; a number of owners/journalists have covered this subject) OR renting an ICE-powered vehicle (probably more economical than owning a second vehicle, depending on frequency and duration, and gives you opportunities to drive cars you wouldn't choose to own) OR taking advantage of car-sharing (GetAround et al) OR <gasp> using public transportation!

      Example: a 3-day weekend in SF - fly into SFO, take BART into the city where, when looking to take a day-trip into Marin, Napa, etc., there are ZipCars and GetAround vehicles all over! (Yes, I realize this level of infrastructure exists in a sad minority of American cities, all the more reason to support addressing it now! Hmm, where'd this soapbox come from...)

      With a little thought and willingness to forego juvenile levels of convenience, the journey becomes less expensive, more fun, and improves everyone's experience.
      • Except...


        I travel for the destination, not the journey. I very much dislike the actual traveling, since it is wasted time, so my goal is to get it over with as quickly as possible.
  • Don't get too despondent. If the individual mandate

    holds up at the Supreme Court, congress will be granted the constitutional right to make it illegal to NOT buy an electric car.
    • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

      That's just silly.
      • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

        Not long ago, when the Republicans first suggested it, I thought a health insurance mandate was silly. Baggins_z doesn't seem that nutty.
      • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

        @gwartnet : Yes - but maybe more true than we want to admit!!!
  • I would need two cars

    An electric vehicle could handle my day-to-day just fine (generally no trips over 20 miles one way, and work commute is close enough to walk weather allowing).

    But at least once a month I am driving at least 75 miles one way to somewhere. For example, this coming week I have two trips that are each over 300 miles one way, plus local driving while I'm there. In the last twelve months I've taken trips that go 200, 300 (three times), 525, and 750 miles one way, and I don't want to trust those trips to an electric vehicle.
    • Range is only one problem

      @dougsyo@... The side effect of electric vehicles will be an increase in demand for electricity ... raising the cost for EVERYBODY .... even little old grandma who doesn't even own a gas car.
  • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

    I am still aware of no concrete answers to battery longevity when vehicles are pushed, repeatedly, to their limits AND how much a replacement battery pack will cost.
  • RE: Electric vehicles still stuck in neutral with consumers

    Forget electric... just get me one of those Emmett Brown specials that runs on coffee grounds & orange peels.
  • Infrastructure not ready

    Electric cars are adding to an already topped out electricity infrastructure. What will happen when the country goes all electric with their cars? Rotating blackouts are already happening, add the load from cars and watch what happens.