Dr Kenan Degirmenci (above), a postdoctoral researcher from QUT Business School, said: "High purchase costs and short driving ranges have been considered to be the main factors which impede people’s decision to buy electric vehicles".
"Since electricity needs to be produced from renewable energy sources for electric vehicles to be a true green alternative, the environmental performance has also been presumed to be a factor."
In a new study, Degirmenci found environmental performance was actually an even stronger predictor of purchase intention over price and range confidence.
The report interviews 40 consumers and surveys 167 people who participated in test drives of electric vehicles in Germany. A small sample, but potentially a telling view of how to best incentivise the uptake of EVs.
Degirmenci says it's important to acknowledge the difference between on-road emissions and all emissions related to fuel production, processing, distribution and use.
"For example, a petrol-driven vehicle produces 119g CO2
-e/km, of which most are on-road emissions. In comparison, an electric vehicle produces zero on-road emissions," he said.
"However, if electricity is generated from coal to charge an electric vehicle it produces 139g CO
-e/km well-to-wheel emissions, compared with only 9g CO2
-e/km well-to-wheel emissions with electricity from renewable energy sources".
He added the results of the study are relevant to Australia due to the fact the transport sector accounts for 16 per cent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, with 85 per cent of this coming from road transport like cars.
"In this regard, a transition from conventional combustion vehicles to electric vehicles has the potential to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions substantially, if that electricity is produced from renewable energy sources," Degirmenci said.