An automotive expert believes global demand for electric cars could outweigh near-term supply after new research found a quarter of drivers might purchase a green vehicle.
More than 25 per cent of drivers surveyed across US, Europe, China and Japan said they would likely consider purchasing plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) or electric vehicle (EVs), as soon as they become available on the market, according to research by Ernst & Young’s Global Automotive Centre.
The report canvassed the views of 1,000 licensed drivers in each of these regions to gauge consumer awareness and interest in alternative technologies.
Birmingham-based Eric Wallbank, UK automotive markets leader, said, “As the survey suggests, PHEVs and EVs have an opportunity to make a significant entrance into the global automotive market over the next few years.
“Even if only a small portion of survey respondents who said they would definitely consider one of these vehicles are serious, there would still be more than enough demand to sell out the estimated 2010 and 2011 production runs of the major and new vehicle manufacturers.”
Nearly seven per cent of respondents globally indicated they would definitely consider buying a PHEV or EV.
If they did, that would mean about 50 million drivers globally – more than half of which would be in China.
Researchers found that attitudes to electric and hybrid cars varied significantly between individual markets.
In the US, for example, the level of awareness toward alternative powertrain technologies is higher than in any other market. However, of those surveyed, 17 per cent said they would never consider purchasing a PHEV or EV, and 70 per cent would be unlikely to buy until the vehicle was established.
On the other hand, in China, familiarity with the technologies is the lowest of all the regions, but respondents were by far the most willing to purchase a PHEV or EV when it becomes available.
A striking 60 per cent of respondents said they would most likely or definitely considering purchasing such vehicles, while only four per cent would not consider it.
Mr Wallbank added: “The results reveal the more mature automotive markets are more sceptical of the new vehicle technologies.
“China on the other hand shows more dynamic characteristics, perhaps because of its shorter exposure to internal combustion technology, with the result being Chinese consumers are less wedded to it.”