Boulder, Colorado – Consumer interest in electric vehicles has declined over the last two years, even as automakers get ready to put more on the market, according to a new study by Pike Research.

In a survey conducted in 2009, 48 per cent of respondents said they would be “extremely” or “very” interested in purchasing a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). In 2010 that number declined to 44 per cent, and in 2011 it fell to 40 per cent.

“Price is the most significant barrier to consumer interest in electric vehicles,” said research director John Gartner. “About two-thirds of our survey respondents who stated they would not be interested in purchasing a PEV said that they felt such a vehicle would be too expensive. Others said that they would want to wait a few years until the technology is more proven, and almost half said that a PEV would not have sufficient driving range for their needs. These are all key issues, both real and perceived, that automakers will need to address if PEVs are to move successfully out of the early adopter phase.”

Other findings included:

– Respondents said they would be most likely to choose Toyota (51 per cent) and Ford (46 per cent) when considering a PEV purchase, even though the two did not have PEVs on the market at the time of the survey. Honda ranked third with 44 per cent, followed by Chevrolet with 42 per cent and Nissan with 35 per cent.

– Consumers are willing to pay a premium for PEVs, just not as much as automakers must charge during the next few years due to the cost of batteries. The research indicates that for a traditional gasoline vehicle that would normally cost $20,000, the optimum price point of a comparable PEV would be 18.75 per cent more, or $23,750.

– 80 per cent of consumers interested in a PEV are also interested in a residential fast charger, but pricing is an issue. While the first generation of residential fast-charging equipment is estimated to cost between $500 and $800, only 28 per cent of respondents are willing to pay $500 or more.

– There is strong interest in smartphone applications tied to the PEV. The most popular feature was the location of the nearest charging station (84 per cent), followed by the battery’s state of charge (82 per cent), electricity pricing data (76 per cent) and the ability to schedule start/stop times for PEV charging (68 per cent).

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