Consumers are still skeptical over EVs, report finds

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Despite the first electric vehicle deliveries in the United States being only weeks away, it seems that consumers are still to be swayed by the savvy marketing employed by the likes of Nissan and Chevrolet.

A new survey from Pike Research has suggested that the traditional area of concern for consumers - range anxiety - has been somewhat alleviated by automakers, but other fears have crept in to fill its place.

Skeptical consumers are more likely to be worried by the fact that electric vehicles haven't yet been proven and may not be as reliable as traditional gasoline models.

In fact, 83 percent of the respondents to Pike's US survey said that they drive 40 miles (64 km) or less on a typical day, making range-anxiety somewhat of a non-issue for the majority.

Instead, the "wait-and-see" approach about the technology itself was a greater issue for consumers in the survey, said analyst Jon Gartner, who warned that "it could easily take several years for mainstream car shoppers to get comfortable with the idea of electric vehicles."

The findings reinforce that automakers face an uphill struggle to convince buyers of the feasibility of electric transportation.

In September, Nissan rolled out a new roadside assistance pack to Japanese buyers of the Nissan Leaf, promising that they would be collected if their cars ran out of juice while on the go.

All electric automakers have also been at pains to stress the warranty time on their batteries, in many cases offering a distance of 100,000 miles.

Pike believes that the optimal price point is 18.75 percent above the base price of a comparable gasoline model, significantly lower than the automakers' intended price points.

Interestingly, when asked which vehicle brands they would consider for an electric vehicle, 51 percent chose Ford - despite the fact that the automaker won't be producing one until 2011.

The next most popular brand was Honda (which also doesn't have an EV on the market), followed by Chevrolet, which began production of its Volt electric vehicle last week.

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