London, England – The majority of global consumers would consider buying a plug-in electric vehicle for their next vehicle purchase, according to a study by British-based Accenture. However, an accompanying report concludes that consumer preferences for charging such vehicles could increase the cost and complexity of managing the electricity grid and charging infrastructure.

The study, Plug-in electric vehicles: Changing perceptions, hedging bets polled over 7,000 people in 13 countries. It found that 60 per cent of consumers would consider buying a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) for their next purchase. Of those who would, 23 per cent would “certainly” do so within the next three years, and 45 per cent “probably” would. Respondents in China were the most enthusiastic, with 96 per cent of them probably or certainly considering such a purchase in the next three years.

However, preferences for PEVs charging could challenge utilities and service providers. Of those polled, 67 per cent would not be willing to let charge-point operators limit when they could charge their vehicles, and a further 20 per cent would only accept limits if they fell within time periods chosen by the vehicle owner. This would reduce the scope to manage electricity demand and avoid grid congestion.

Battery swapping, where empty batteries are quickly replaced at service stations for fully-charged ones, was rejected by 62 per cent of respondents, who preferred to plug in their cars to recharge the battery. As well, 55 per cent would only plug in their vehicles when they needed to charge up, rather than whenever they park, a behaviour which could result in less predictable charging patterns and a reduction in demand for public charging infrastructure.

Only 29 per cent of drivers would buy fully-electric PEVs; 71 per cent would prefer plug-in hybrid vehicles, which run on gasoline once the battery runs low. Eighty-five per cent said that fully-electric PEVs do not have sufficient battery range to cover their daily driving needs. As well, 83 per cent cited insufficient availability of charging points and 70 per cent of respondents felt that battery-only PEVs take too long to charge.

Cost was not the only factor with PEVs, as 80 per cent they wanted to know the source of their electricity, and 45 per cent said that the fuel source for the electricity would have an effect on their decision to buy a PEV. The majority of these drivers would be encouraged to buy a PEV if the fuel source was renewable, and would be discouraged if the electricity was generated by nuclear or fossil fuel.

While 51 per cent of consumers would be motivated to buy a PEV if the total running cost was less than for a conventional vehicle, other important factors included the availability of charging points and the vehicle’s range being equal to that of a conventional car.

When asked what incentives would encourage them to switch to a PEV, the most popular choices were free parking, toll discounts, and the availability of priority lanes.

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