Further technology 'is needed to make EVs more attractive'

New research shows that while US consumer interest in fully battery-operated electric vehicles (EVs) is relatively positive, the current electric offerings do not meet most consumers’ requirements.

The analysis of Gartner’s latest EV readiness study conducted in the first quarter of 2011 showed that 21 per cent of US drivers would consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase — the fourth-highest-ranked technology after petrol, hybrid and natural-gas-powered cars and before diesel-powered vehicles.

On the downside, nearly one-third of US drivers interested in EVs are not willing to pay a premium price for an electric car, and only five per cent are willing to pay $10,000 (£8,800) more.

’The ideal EV does not exist yet in today’s automotive market and will likely require another technology generation before it arrives,’ said Thilo Koslowski, vice-president of Gartner. ’EVs must provide better cost-value ratios and convince consumers that no significant behavioural changes are needed before becoming a large-scale, consumer alternative for traditional technologies.’

The Gartner survey results showed that 22 per cent of respondents would be satisfied with a 120-mile range from an EV, and 12 per cent would find 30–60 miles acceptable. Some 56 per cent of respondents considered a recharging time of between four and 12 hours acceptable.

According to Gartner, governments will need to increase the funding of consumer purchases to achieve substantial EV sales in the short term. If the goal is to reduce dependency on oil and address environmental issues, then governments must also broaden their policies and funding to include other powertrain technologies that also offer reduced energy consumption.

Gartner maintains its 2009 prediction that, in industrialised markets, the number of battery-powered vehicles (plug-in full-electric and plug-in hybrid EVs) as a percentage of all vehicles sold using various types of propulsion will range from five per cent to eight per cent of all vehicle sales by 2020 and from 15 per cent to 20 per cent of all vehicle sales by 2030.