Farmington Hills, Michigan – Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) draw mixed reviews from consumers as they consider cost, convenience and ecological issues, according to a new study by U.S. research firm Morpace.

The study, Morpace Powertrain Acceptance and Consumer Engagement, shows that 33 per cent are willing to consider PHEV technology for their next vehicle, 33 per cent are unwilling, and 34 per cent are undecided.

While improved fuel economy is the top reason cited for considering a PHEV, lower operating costs and positive environmental impact also contribute to interest. “With gasoline hovering around $2.00 per gallon, there is no real economic case for plug-in hybrids right now,” said Bryan Krulikowski, vice-president of Morpace. “Those interested in plug-ins are also considering the non-economic benefits provided by the technology.”

Krulikowski said that it’s “not surprising” that consideration is strongest among luxury car owners, given the technology’s high up-front purchase cost, but those driving midsize cars and minivans also tend to be more interested in PHEVs.

Among those not interested, the primary concern is limited range during all-electric operation. “Consumers expect to drive more than 40 miles (64 km) using only the electric motor,” Krulikowski said. “Further, the lack of infrastructure to support recharging these vehicles weighs on consumers’ minds.”

Being able to recharge the vehicle at home is important to 90 per cent of consumers, and among all study respondents, 67 per cent indicated having access to an outlet at the location where they park overnight, leaving a significant number of consumers who must rely on recharging locations other than their homes. On average, consumers said they would pay $5.70 per hour to recharge a PHEV at a public location.

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