Consumer interest in EVs holds steady

Consumer interest in electric vehicles remains strong, Pike Research reports.

Consumer interest in electric vehicles remains strong, Pike Research reports.

With just two major automakers — Chevrolet and Nissan — launching their first highway-ready electric vehicles this year, there's been a lot of talk among car experts about whether or not the consumer interest is there to support the nascent electric vehicle industry.

A report out Thursday from the cleantech analysts at Pike Research indicates that among 1,051 consumers they surveyed 40 percent were either "extremely" or "very" interested in plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle. Of the sample, 26 percent said they were either "not very" or "not at all" interested and the rest fell somewhere in the middle.

The study, while a relatively small sample, provides a counterpoint to stories looking back at 2010 electric vehicle sales — which will amount to well less than 1 percent of the more than 12 million new car and truck sales in the U.S. — and proclaiming the industry's first year lackluster.

"Rather than electrifying auto buyers, the plug-in car revolution is feeling more like a fizzle," wrote Chris Woodyard in USA Today last week, citing the lack of EV charging infrastructure and the flame out of companies such as the maker of the Think City car.

The Pike Research report paints a brighter picture, pointing out that three dozen plug-in electric models are expected to be introduced in 2012 — including the Ford Focus Electric which will be available in Portland starting in spring, 2012.

"Although 2011 shipments in North America will be limited to less than 20,000, Pike Research anticipates the category will grow swiftly," the report states.

Pike analysts expect to see a compound annual growth rate in North American sales of plug-in cars of 58.2 percent between 2011 and 2017.

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@SustainableBzOR | christinawilliams@bizjournals.com | 503.219.3438

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