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Debunking myths surrounding electric vehicles

Posting in Education

Will changing attitudes concerning electric vehicles become the incentive for consumers to buy them?

Skeptisim, worry about expense or security, and the belief electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids are nothing more than a fad -- these are problems that consumer psychologists at London Metropolitan University have been working to change.

Led by Dr Louise Bunce, Lecturer in Psychology, a three month UK trial of 340 motorists found that after testing out both traditional cars and their electric counterparts, many ended up with a preference for the EV. Bunce said:

"Despite initial skepticism, drivers quickly adapted to the vehicles and were extremely positive
about aspects of its performance, including its acceleration and speed. Drivers soon discovered that recharging their vehicle was more convenient than having to stop en-route to refuel at a petrol station. Not to mention, it costs around a mere £2 to go 100 miles.

There are zero tail-pipe emissions for the health-conscious and people felt environmentally and
socially responsible while at the wheel."

In the UK, bays supplying power for EVs are on the rise, but it is still the case that any long-distance journeys have to be planned in advance. Although driving an electric or hybrid model is a better alternative for the environment, it will take time for consumers to be steered towards purchasing them -- as the short-term cost can be a burden.

In order to change this, the UK government is providing incentives in the form of dismissing road tax, and London Met psychologist Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos is heading a new project to research the best ways to change the consumer mindset.

"We want to look at the psychology and advertising techniques behind this industry and re-educate
people," he said.

"So few people in the UK have taken up the Government's £5000 ($8000) grant to help buy these cars; this
means marketers need to reposition electric vehicles to consumers."

Image credit: Chevrolet

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— By on October 4, 2012, 3:58 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure