As consumer interest in fuel-efficient vehicles remains high, two automakers, Chevrolet and Nissan, ended 2010 with the launch of their first highway-capable plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) for the mass market. These vehicles, commercially available in December 2010, enable drivers to reduce both gasoline expenses and greenhouse gas emissions. Many other auto manufacturers are working to electrify their lineups with new models. For example, Toyota plans to launch PEV Prius in January 2012, and other manufacturers have plans to launch plug-in electric models in the near future.

To assess consumer demand, preferences, and price sensitivity for PEVs and EV charging infrastructure, Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., conducted a web-based survey of 1,051 U.S. consumers in the fall of 2011 using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample. The survey found that, based on Americans' driving and commute patterns, PEVs should be a strong fit for a large number of consumers. Likewise, survey respondents indicated strong fundamental interest in PEVs, with 40% of participants stating that they would be extremely or very interested in purchasing such a vehicle, assuming the price were right. However, price sensitivity is an issue that continues to loom over the industry, as survey participants’ willingness to pay was much lower than the prices currently planned by automakers.

This Pike Research report examines the dynamics of consumer demand for PEVs, fast residential charging outlets, and workplace, public, and private charge points. It includes a detailed analysis of price sensitivity and optimal price points for PEVs, as well as data related to typical consumer driving patterns that will affect demand for such vehicles, and vehicle brand preferences. The report also includes information on consumer interest in smartphone applications that would allow them to better utilize a PEV