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US drivers unaware of financial benefits of EVs

Over 2,000 in 21 of the nation’s largest cities were interviewed for the report, which revealed that 95% of the respondents didn’t know about state and local subsidies, rebates and other incentives. In addition, 75% were unaware about the savings in fuel and maintenance costs that all plug-in electric vehicles are expected to generate compared to gasoline vehicles.

‘It is well established that current mainstream consumer interest in these vehicles is low,’ said John D Graham, one of the co-authors of the report. ‘What should be particularly troubling for PEV proponents and manufacturers is that the respondents to our survey live in major urban areas, the places where plug-in electric vehicles make the most sense due to daily travel patterns. For sales to increase, consumers need to be better informed about the financial incentives and advantages of owning an alternatively fuelled car.’

‘Only two out of 758 survey respondents living in areas where subsidies for home-charging equipment are offered were aware of their availability,’ the researchers note. ‘The low rate of awareness of state and local plug-in electric vehicle incentives suggests the incentives have not yet been meaningfully communicated to members of the mainstream public.’

In addition to being uninformed about financial benefits, a majority of consumers also can’t answer basic factual questions about the cost of owning a EV. ‘If consumers believe they have higher purchase prices, higher fuel and maintenance costs and lower driving ranges than they actually do, they’re not going to shop for them when it comes time to buy a new car,’ Sanya Carley, co-author of the report, said.

If car buyers have false perceptions about the advantages of PEV ownership, they’re also unlikely to pay attention to communications about the incentives, further complicating the challenge for governments and industry, the report concludes.

Natalie Middleton

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