A new study into the experience of current and potential US electric vehicle owners, has concluded that EVs will stay in the minority for sales unless car makers lower prices and better demonstrate the potential economic benefits to consumers.

The inaugural J.D Power and Associates 2012 Electric Vehicle Ownership Experience Study explored the EV shopping and consideration experience, as well as ownership experience, of 7600 people during the month of October.

Nissan Leaf - 2

The study found that 44 per cent of current EV owners cited the environmental friendliness of their vehicle’s lower emissions – compared to those from petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles – as the most important benefit of owning an EV.

In contrast, only 11 per cent of those considering an EV for their next vehicle were concerned with the environmental benefits, with 45 per cent focused on the economic rewards of reduced fuel costs.

Current EV owners reported an average monthly utility bill increase of US$18 once they began recharging their new vehicle at home – substantially less than the reported US$147 average previously spent on fuel during the same period.

Tesla Roadster 2.5 - 1

J.D Power and Associates senior director of the green practice Neal Oddes said, existing owners of electric vehicles focus on the emotional benefits of owning an electric vehicle, such as having a positive effect on the environment, but manufacturers must address the economic equation to convince the masses and increase sales.

“There still is a disconnect between the reality of the cost of an EV and the cost savings that consumers want to achieve,” Oddes said.

Tesla Roadster 2.5 - 2

The study found that owners of all-electric vehicles (AEV) pay a US$10,000 premium on average, over the price of a similar petrol-powered vehicle, with plug-in hybrids (PHEV) netting a premium of US$16,000.

According to the study, it would take an average of six and a half years for AEV owners to recoup the US$10,000 premium, based on annual fuel savings, while this balloons out to 11 years for PHEV owners.

Nissan Leaf - 1

Oddes said this means the payback period is longer than most consumers keep their cars.

“The bottom line is that the price has to come down, which requires a technological quantum leap to reduce the battery price. There also needs to be an improvement in the infrastructure, or the number of charging stations outside of the home. Until those two concerns are addressed, EV sales will remain flat.

“Automakers need to continue to address these issues and educate consumers about the benefits of EV technologies in order to gain momentum in the marketplace.”

In addition to price, vehicle size and concerns with reliability of the vehicle rounded out the top three reasons people rejected EVs.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV - 1

The other point manufacturers should note, is that once consumers get into an EV, they tend to stick with that brand.

The study showed that most EV owners, definitely would or probably would, buy another EV from the same manufacturer, with 82.5 per cent indicating the bond would be maintained – the average brand retention among owners of all vehicle types is 49.8 per cent.

The 2012 Electric Vehicle Ownership Experience Study was based on online responses from people who either currently own an EV, are considering an EV for their next vehicle purchase, or shopped for an EV but ultimately decided not to purchase one.

Currently in Australia the range of electric vehicles on offer includes the $48,800 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, $51,500 Nissan Leaf, and $206,188 Tesla Roadster.

  • Dave W

    Good study. The average consumer EV or hybrid are just not worth the price. Battery technology isn’t exactly green, the fuel saving is negligible, the cars underpowered and most likely more expensive to service or repair, not to mention the loss of space for the battery.

    • Phil

      Why are they more likely more expensive to service or repair? Electric motors only have one moving part inside and the cars don’t have a gearbox/clutch or a exhaust system or a cooling system that is anywhere near as complex. There are no oil/filter/plugs/belts/chains to constantly change and around %95 of the braking is done by engine regeneration so the brake discs/pads rarely need changing – if at all.

      Which EV’s have a loss of space for the battery? EVs normally have flat packs under the floor that fill the space that would normally be occupied by the exhaust/mufflers/cats and gearbox etc – and this combined with the electric motor being far smaller than a petrol motor along with not needing space for items like a alternator/fuel pump/radiator etc, usually allows EVs to offer MORE space not less.

      Did you actually read the article re fuel savings? The average cost of electricity for the EV was $18 a month compared to $147 for fueling a petrol car. That makes the EV more than EIGHT times CHEAPER. That is a gigantic difference.

      Underpowered? EV’s can offer far less power on paper but they deliver that across a far broader range and have maximum torque avaliable from 0rpm. The 80KW Nissan Leaf runs 0-100 in 9 secs (though some reports claim around 7.5-8.0) which puts it on par with a similar sized petrol car putting out 110KW.
      The Tesla Roadster runs to 100kmh in 3.7 secs and the Model S sedan does it in around 5 secs.

      Yes the starting prices are high and there are worries over the batterys but your other complaints are nonsense.

      • Dave W

        You just like to argue with me don’t you Phil? lol

        Did YOU read the part where it says you need to drive for 6.5 – 11 years to recoup the premium from the fuel saving?

        Now, in Australia the i-Miev cost $48,800 and Yaris 5dr cost $15,690, both before on-road. That’s $33,110 difference. How long do you think it would take to recoup the premium from the fuel saving if someone drive the average of 15,000km a year? I really doubt the average commuter would spend US$147 a month on petrol driving a Yaris or i20 in Australia.

        Also if you read my post a bit more carefully, I said “the average consumer EV or hybrid”. How you managed to include Tesla cars in this discussion is beyond me. You also can’t buy Nissan Leaf in Australia if I remember correctly.

        The i-Miev only provides 235L of boot space, as opposed to Yaris with 286L. That’s a couple of suitcases you won’t be able to fit inside.

        Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think there’s any independent mechanics that service EVs, and even if there is, chances are they’ll charge you premium service as well. Or you can go to the dealer which also means you’ll get charged even more.

        Regardless whether my complaints are nonsense or true, my original point still stands. They’re too expensive and they don’t offer any advantage over the equivalent sized petrol or diesel engined cars. Ergo, they’re not worth buying.

      • F1orce

        You maybe right. But the thing is with ICE is that with little maintainence they last forvever.

        Secondly electric motors do have their maintainence, they also use oil and they have many parts which need to be changed. As they will wear out.

        Yes acceleration from stop is the best with EVs. But once your over 100km/h they tend to pull very slowly. And in the leafs case it’s limited to 130km/h.. I don’t think it would even reach that kind of speed.

        And the biggest issue is the battery.

        So in a nutshell EVs have come a long way, but they still have a long way to go before they’re even remotely popular..

        • Phil

          Oh dear.

          Dave, Nissan Leaf is on sale for $51,500 IN AUSTRALIA. It is far superior in every
          way to the Mitsubishi I-Miev which is a very weak effort by Mitsubishi.

          The Leaf is also bigger and faster than a Yaris. It is Corolla sized and
          offers better than Corolla acceleration.

          It’s amusing that  you thinks a 286L boot in a Yaris will allow them to
          carry a couple of suitcases which wouldn’t otherwise fit in a 235L Imiev boot.

          The initial purchase price is too high as I already said but if it is actually
          possible to recoup the cost within a realistic ownership time (6-11 years) that
          goes to demonstrate that there is obviously a gigantic fuel saving. If you can recoup $30K within that time frame how could anyone say fuel savings are negligible?  That time frame is actually not that much different to that required to make up for paying extra for some diesel engines (particularly right now in Sydney where petrol is $1.29 and Diesel is $1.52).
          No independent mechanics for servicing EVs? What needs servicing in a EV? Please tell me. I listed a range of things that DO NOT need work in a EV, whilst all you keep saying is they need lots of expensive servicing???? Of course mechanics will hate EV’s because nearly all of them will lose their jobs if EVs become mainstream.


          Haha F1orce. Electric motors need oil changes? You write this comment while
          using a computer don’t you? When was the last time you did a oil change on the
          little electric motor in your computer? What does it run on? 6 monthly intervals or 12 monthly intervals? What sort of oil do you put in it?

          Would someone please LIST what actually needs to be serviced in a electric
          motor? I’m really worried as my household has many electric motors (in the washing machine/dishwasher/vacummcleaner etc) and I’ve never serviced a single one in several decades of ownership. They must be all about to explode like all those VWs driving around on the road.

          Pffffff, with “little maintainence” ICE “last forever”? Which ICE engines can
          last forever with “little maintainence”?

          • Dave W

            Fuel saving… pfft… Fuel saving my ar$e.

            If I buy a Yaris over the LEAF, I’d have saved $35,810. How many years do you think
            that would support me just for fuel? Well, if I spend around $40-50 a
            week, that kind of saving would bought me 13-17 years worth of fuel.

            $51,500, That’s Golf R, Megane RS money. Now do you see what I mean by underpowered? And Only eco-mentalist like Clover Moore would buy the Leaf over these cars.

            The initial price NEGATES EVERY ADVANTAGE it  has!!  Jesus…  Are you thick or something?

            Sure we can buy Nissan, but IIRC, there was an article somewhere saying we have to take a suitability test first.

            That 6-11 years is AMERICAN figure. That $30k is the difference based on Australian price. Learn some math. And you know how expensive electricity is in Sydney compared to America?

          • Phil

             Once again, the Leaf is Crapolla sized, with the Crapolla being a extra
            $6000-$10,000 more than a Yukis. 
            Why do you inside on comparing it to a Yukis and a bottom of the range manual Yukis
            at that? The Leaf comes standard with crap like SatNav/Proximitykey/autoheadlights/tripcomputer/infotainmentsystem/rainsingwipers/autodimmingmirror/alloys
            etc and is really a auto. So the realistic comparison for price when taking size,kit and performance is the top of the range Crapolla Auto which is $30,490.
            Also Leaf and other EVs aren’t really trying to compete to appeal to people
            after hot hatches. You answered your own idiotic blerbing, they are for
            eco-mentalists obviously and also tech heads. Do you have something against
            them? These people won’t be buying it to try to save money anyway, they’re interested in technology and clean living. Besides, wouldn’t you prefer city streets to have quiet, zero tailpipe emission
            cars zipping around or do you want high powered polluting cars?


            Why do you keep going on about the purchase price as if its a excuse to water
            down the savings in buying fuel? For about the 4th time, yes the purchase price
            is high – why do you keep going on about it?

            Stop trying to hide the savings in fuel behind the initial purchase price.
            There are fuel savings to be made, whether or not you think its worth it when
            weighed up against the purchase price, does not discount the fact that the
            fuel/electricity costs in a electric car are WAY below those of a petrol
            How much do you think it costs to set up electric railway systems? Huge amounts of wiring with substations everywhere adds up to a massive initial cost which could simply be avoided by just running diesel trains. But whenever the start up capital is avaliable, you always go for electric railways because they are way, way more efficient overall – not to mention cleaner.


            The initial price negates every advantage it has? Well about about servicing?
            I’m still waiting for you to tell me about all this stuff that needs servicing
            in a electric car that you insist will cost so much more?

            So for about the 4th time, what needs servicing in a EV and why would doing “it” (read: nothing) be so expensive?

            Yes, I’m aware this is a American article, it said USA in the first line. I didn’t need you to point that out. What difference does it make? The costs are all relative. Our EVs costs more than USA EVs…….oh what do you know? Our petrol cars costs more than their petrol cars!
            Our electricity costs more than USA’s…..oh what do you know? Our petrol costs more than USA’s!

          • Phil

            Oh dear Dave W.

            Since when does a Yaris measure 4.45 metres long, run to 100kmh in under 9 secs, has 4/5 doors and come with Satnav/rainsensors/proximitykey/alloys/4 doors/tripcomputer/autoheadlights/infotainmentsystem/autogearbox etc and cost just $15,000?

            The $15,000 Yaris that I know of only measures 3.8 metres, takes 11 secs to 100kmh, only 2/3 doors and does not come with any of that kit?
            Which dealer do I go to get this fancy Yaris?

          • Dave W

            Blah blah blah… 9 secs blah blah blah… Let’s go road race to… say Bathurst? I’ll drive a Yaris and you drive your precious LEAF, let’s see who gets there first.

            Oh wait… You don’t have enough juice to drive that far…

            Even if I buy an i30 PREMIUM, I’d still save 21 grand to spend on petrol.

            So, have you taken that suitability test for the LEAF? Did you pass? Wow… How limited can it be that Nissan has to test if it’s suitable for a potential buyer? “Sorry sir, you don’t have off-street parking, you can’t buy this car”.

          • Phil

             Dave W , I’m still waiting for the information and cost about what needs maintaining in a electric motor? Come on, you surely have lots of items in your house that have a electric motor? Don’t you get a mechanic out to service them every year? Or do you run everything in your household on petrol power because as F1 said, ICE motors last forever and are cheaper to maintain right?
            I see your throwing up a smokescreen and trying to hide from addressing the debate by moving into ambiguity. Your Yaris comparison can’t match a Leaf for performance or size or kit despite your claim that EVs were underpowered and tiny, so instead of admitting you were wrong, you’ve moved onto attacking the range of EVs? Even though of course, no one is going to buy a EV for long trips – thats what the Chevy Volt is supposed to address.

            At least your come down to earth on a more realistic price difference – $21,000. Down from $35K, quite a significant drop haha!

          • Dave W

            As always, you’re just being argumentative. There are two main selling points of EVs and they are saving fuel money and green.

            Well, battery technology isn’t really green and noone gives a sh!t about it anyway. It’s all about they money saved on fuel.

            Well, with the premium price, there isn’t any saving. If your main argument against that $20k-30k premium is service cost, you’re talking out of your ar$e. Electric powered LSEs still have oily bits and they do need maintaining and regular servicing. If you didn’t know that, kindly STFU and GTFO.

          • Phil

             Still completely ignorant Dave W.

            If no one is interested in green cars, why is Toyota selling a MILLION Hybrids a year? It’s not like hybrids save much money on fuel given that cheaper diesel cars can match/sometimes even beat them for economy.
            Funnily enough, the first mainstream hybrid cars cost $50K and were small, under powered cars – go look up the original Honda Insight.

            If you read about some of the owners reports on EVs, you’ll find many people purchased the car in part due to the new TECHNOLOGY which gives them another buying point for tech heads.

            As for servicing, you still can’t come up with what needs servicing and why you think it’s expensive and frequent in electric cars?
            You keep saying they need frequent servicing over and over, yet you cannot provide any details at all except “oily bits”? you are the one being argumentative, why not bring some facts to the table instead of your mindless dribble?
            I’ve asked you several times how often you get your household products serviced? My washing machine has a electric motor in it that spins a big metal bowl and 20kgs of wet clothes at 1000rpm & has been doing so for over a decade. Never been touched for servicing and working fine – how could this be so if it needs constant servicing for it’s “oily bits”. There is no oil to put into a washing machine, just like a EV – go have a look at a EV, you’ll find no oil dipstick and no oil sump underneath, no oil warning light on the dashboard.

          • Dave W

            Sigh… It’s like talking to a little kid. Ok, pay attention because this is the last time I’m going to explain.

            Your electrical appliances don’t have to move tons of mass at high speed. I already gave you an example of Load Shifting Equipment that needs regular servicing, maintenance and repair, just like normal vehicles.

            Why Toyota sells millions of hybrids? Because of the green bandwagon.

            Have a nice weekend.

          • Dave W

            And warranty of electronic gadgets and appliances is usually only one year.

          • Phil

            But you said no one was interested in green? Now your saying that millions are buying hybrids cause of the green bandwagon…..contradicting yourself much?

            Yet again, still failing to provide what needs servicing in a electric motor. I think you’ll find LSE gets servicing on hydraulic components not the electrical motors. Electric train move considerably more mass than a car are even higher speeds (sustained 300kmh in some countrys) and they dont get oil changes every 10,000kms (which for them would be every week).

            So heres some simple questions for you:

            1. What needs servicing in a electrical motor?

  • Brendan

    When they titled it with ‘boost attractiveness’, I immediately thought that they meant make them look more visually attractive, as right now it’s only the Tesla and Karma that look half decent.

  • F1orce

    The Tesla Model-S is nice

    But there are other cars that are better in every respect at a lower price..

  • SubFoz

    My work currentlty owns 3 electric powered vehicles 2 Nissan Leafs and a converted Ford Focus, and a heap of hybrid toyotas, Ive driven all of them and there go just as good if not better than more current small cars, they are pretty cool to drive so smooth and quiet..

  • Henry Toussaint

    I went in an iMiEV, it has a cheap cabin and only 4 seats…

  • Luke Brinsmead

    I’ve only seen one I-MiEV on the roads so far and it looked unconventional and somewhat ugly. Adding to that a priced double that of the new conventional car I bought, I wondered who in their right mind would buy one.