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Interest in electric vehicles held back by lack of 'personal benefits'

Posting in Energy

We buy a new smartphone for Internet access, a new house because we want more space. A new television so we can enjoy HD viewing. And we buy electric vehicles because...?

This is the question at the center of a new study conducted by GfK. The Electric Vehicle Study 2013 surveyed several thousand consumers across the U.S., China, Japan, France, Spain, and Russia to find out what buyers believed they get from investing in an EV.

Conducted online between January and April, the study found that overall, 55 percent of respondents have a positive opinion of EVs, and 43 percent are "somewhat or open" to the idea of purchasing one. However, 31 percent are staunchly against the idea.

The indirect benefits of low pollution, innovative and quiet operation persuaded 77 percent, 76 percent and 73 percent of respondents to look at EVs favourably. The direct benefits -- easy operation and low fuel cost came in close behind, enticing 68 percent and 65 percent of respondents respectively.

However, 67 percent said that the poor selection of EVs available make them less likely to purchase a model. In addition, few repair locations stop 67 percent from considering electric vehicles, high purchase prices make 64 percent rethink their next car model choice, and limited battery lifespans are enough to deter 61 percent of consumers.

The perceived negative elements of driving an EV continues; 58 percent were unhappy with insufficient driving ranges -- also known as range anxiety -- and 57 percent were turned off by inadequate recharging infrastructure.

But how do these results break down by country?

Don DeVeaux, GfK’s Global Lead for Automotive, commented:

"The different challenges and opportunity in each market become clear when we look at their perception of the main benefits that electric vehicles deliver. In Japan, which has by far the highest familiarity with EVs, it is the direct personal benefits that are most associated with them, such as 'easy to operate,' 'safe' and 'reliable.'

But in the U.S., China, Russia, France and, to a lesser extent, Spain it's the other way around. In these markets, most respondents associate EVs primarily with the indirect benefit of 'low emissions' and have little perception of them as delivering direct personal benefits."

Via: GfK

Image credit: Telefonica

— By on August 21, 2013, 8:04 PM 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