Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Costs of plug-in cars key to broad consumer acceptance

22.10.2009
A University of Michigan survey released today shows widespread consumer interest in buying plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). But the cost of the cars is much more influential than environmental and other non-economic factors as a predictor of purchase probabilities.

The survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,513 adults age 18 and over was conducted between July and November 2008 as part of the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. The findings were released at The Business of Plugging In: A Plug-In Electric Vehicle Conference in Detroit.

"The data provide strong evidence that a combination of economic and social incentives may be most effective in successfully introducing these vehicles," said economist Richard Curtin, director of the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research.

The study was supported by funds from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the U-M Transportation Research Institute. In addition to assessing the current state of knowledge and opinions about PHEVs, the survey addressed the willingness to pay for these vehicles given different cost and fuel savings scenarios.

Overall, when given no cost or fuel-saving estimates, 42 percent of those surveyed said there was at least some chance that they would buy a PHEV sometime in the future.

The researchers then asked respondents to rate the likelihood of purchasing a PHEV under three different cost-scenarios, each time assuming they would save 75 percent in fuel costs compared to a traditional, gasoline-powered vehicle. With each successive doubling of the price of PHEVs, the probability of purchase fell by 16 percentage points.

On average, 46 percent of those surveyed said there was some chance they would purchase a PHEV that cost $2,500 more than a traditional vehicle; 30 percent said there was a chance they would buy if the PHEV cost $5,000 more; but just 14 percent said there was a chance if it cost an additional $10,000.

The relationship between cost and purchase probabilities was clearly indicated by the proportions who said there was zero chance of buying or 100 percent chance of buying at the three different cost premiums presented in the survey.

"Indeed, 56 percent of all consumers responded that there was no chance that they would buy a PHEV at the top premium," Curtin said. "The proportion indicating a zero probability of purchase moves from nearly one-in-four at $2,500, to one in three at $5,000, to more than one in two at an added cost of $10,000. At the other extreme, those who said they were 100 percent certain that they would buy a PHEV reached a high of just 10 percent for the lowest added cost and fell to just 1 percent for the highest added cost."

It should be no surprise that vehicle purchases, typically the second largest purchase households make, would be very sensitive to price, Curtin says. But although consumer acceptance of PHEVs was not determined solely by cost issues, the role of environmental considerations played a smaller role in consumer attitudes about PHEVs than had been anticipated.

Half of all consumers reported that showing a commitment to the environment through the purchase of a PHEV was "very important" to them. This kind of overt demonstration of a commitment to buying environmentally friendly products—known as "badging"—has long been recognized as a powerful influence on purchases of many different "green" products, Curtin says.

But when asked what they thought was the main advantage of a PHEV—reducing money spent on fuel, reducing vehicle emissions or reducing dependence on foreign oil—54 percent reported that reducing dependence on foreign oil was the main advantage.

"Reducing vehicle emissions was by far the least frequently cited advantage," Curtin said. "Just 15 percent of all consumers cited that as the main advantage."

Surprisingly, only 31 percent thought reducing money spent on fuel was the main advantage, even though the price of gas was high during the time the survey was conducted. When the survey started in July 2008, gas prices were near their all-time peak level ($4.28 per gallon) and then fell sharply during the period of data collection. But the researchers found no relationship between PHEV purchase probabilities and the price of gas.

"The data provide strong evidence that a combination of economic and social incentives may be most effective for the successful introduction of PHEVs," Curtin said. "The survey also showed the significant influence of hybrid vehicles in signaling people's commitment to a clean environment.

"Nonetheless, consumer attitudes toward the environment are less compelling than economic criteria in explaining hybrid purchase probabilities. Presumably, if PHEVs are priced so that consumers can recoup their initial investments over a reasonable time period, consumers would find ample economic justification for their purchase. The critical role of environmental and other non-economic attitudes may be to provide the initial burst of interest and sales to propel the appeal of PHEVs to the mass market."

The analysis also examined how vehicle usage patterns and currently owned vehicle choices, as well as demographic characteristics such as age, income, education and gender, are connected to preferences for PHEVs. Additional correlates of purchase probabilities, including location and availability of outlets for recharging, and preferences for new technologies, are also analyzed in the survey report.

Diane Swanbrow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Automotive Engineering:

nachricht 3D scans for the automotive industry
16.01.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Improvement of the operating range and increasing of the reliability of integrated circuits
09.11.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Automotive Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>