A New Study in Europe Accentuates the Growing Need for Supporting Plug-in Hybrid Infrastructures
A new Harris Interactive study has uncovered significant consumer demand for energy efficient technologies in the automotive sector in Europe. Comparison research in the U.S. mimics this trend.
Figures from the annual AutoTECHCAST Europe study, undertaken by global market research organization Harris Interactive, reveal that 20 percent of Europeans are very or extremely likely to purchase a vehicle that has plug-in hybrid technology, not taking into account estimated market prices. The Harris Interactive AutoTECHCAST U.S. study evaluates similar domestic consumer trends and provides comparison data for marketers and manufacturers seeking to better understand key differences (and important similarities) in U.S. and European consumer markets.
The study reveals that 30 percent of European consumers who are likely to purchase the plug-in hybrid technology in their next vehicle expect to charge it at least once a day or more. Once the vehicle is plugged in, they expect to charge it for around 5.1 hours. A similar study in the U.S. shows that Americans expect to charge their vehicles slightly more often than their European counterparts – 56 percent anticipated charging their car at least once daily and for approximately 6 hours at a time.
The convenience of plugging in a vehicle every night instead of filling it up at the gas station every week is very appealing to plug-in hybrid considerers, with 72 percent of respondents in Europe preferring the plug-in option. "It’s clear that people are open to this new approach of adding energy to the vehicle. The fact that drivers now prefer to conduct this task daily, versus once a week, shows real promise for the technology," said Stephen A. Lovett, director of automotive and transportation research at Harris Interactive.
The study also highlights that further consideration is needed of the infrastructure required to support a population of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Among the European consumers surveyed, 21 percent of those considering buying a plug-in hybrid indicate that they currently park on the street when at home.
"While consumers are increasingly open to this technology, major changes in the infrastructure in both Europe and the U.S. will be critical for consumers to access the desired benefits of this technology. Our research shows that the gap between demand and available "charging supply" needs to be addressed. Due to a combination of higher fuel costs, concentrated driving conditions, and cultural differences that cater to high levels of environmental protection, Europeans have historically been more adopting of technologies that contribute to additional efficiency in their vehicles. Mounting economic and environmental trends in the U.S., however, will likely start to level the playing field in the future among U.S. and European consumers."
In addition to the plug-in hybrid engine, Europeans also show significant interest in the Start-Stop System technology. Before market prices are brought into the equation, a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said they would be very or extremely likely to purchase the Start-Stop System technology for their next vehicle.
"Start-Stop Systems provide the greatest benefit in city driving environments. With Europe’s higher population density and greater penetration of manual transmissions, the mindset progression to this type of system is more natural than in the US, which tends to favor more automatic dominated, highway cruising vehicles. This has been recognized by BMW, which has begun equipping many of its European models with such systems."
Rochester, N.Y - September 18th 2008