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Two in three Americans would try out electric vehicles

As many as two in every five American consumers would be keen to test drive an electric vehicle, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

The consumer electronics trade body has published a study suggesting that the environmental benefits and potential cost savings of electric cars are proving attractive to consumers.

The ability to travel without gasoline, reduction in pollution and the fact that electric vehicles will not need oil changes or tune-ups were cited as particular reasons to opt for an electric vehicle.

But, while 40% of those surveyed a the end of May 2010 would test drive a vehicle, questions still remain about battery life and the convenience of battery charging.

Just over half of consumers questioned said they would be less likely to consider an electric car if they had to install special battery charging systems at home.

Chris Ely, CEA’s manager of industry analysis, said interest in electric cars was “strong and likely to grow” as cars like the Nissan LEAF and the hybrid Chevy Volt enter the market later this year.

He said: “Environmental benefits, coupled with potential cost savings in fuel and tune-ups, will lead to increased interest for electric vehicles and potential floor traffic at dealerships. But concerns regarding battery life, charging stations and limited mileage may keep some consumers away until a comprehensive infrastructure is in place.

Manufacturers looking to introduce electric or electrified vehicles later this year and in 2011 have been working around the country to help develop more recharging infrastructure.

The latest partnership has seen the Ford Motor Company working with Oregon utility Portland General Electric (PGE) to prepare the city of Portland and the Pacific Northwest for electric cars. The two companies announced yesterday that they would work together to push for favorable legislation in the area to support development of recharging infrastructure.

Ford is set to introduce its Transit Connect Electric small commercial van, its Focus Electric passenger car, two next-generation battery-powered hybrids and a plug-in hybrid over the next two years.

Mike Tinskey, Manager of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure at Ford  said:  “To support the roll out and acceptance of these vehicles it is important to work with local utilities to make sure the necessary infrastructure and grid capability are ready.”

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