Publication Detail

The Marketability of Electric Vehicles: Battery Performance and Consumer Demand for Driving Range


Presentation Series

Suggested Citation:
Kurani, Kenneth S., Daniel Sperling, Thomas S. Turrentine (1996) The Marketability of Electric Vehicles: Battery Performance and Consumer Demand for Driving Range. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Presentation Series UCD-ITS-RP-96-32

Eleventh Annual Battery Conference on Applications and Advances

This paper reports on a four-year study of electric vehicle demand. The study was motivated by our hypothesis that most previous studies understate electric vehicle (EV) demand because they largely ignore behavioral adaptations of households, the benefits of home recharging, and the likelihood that vehicle purchase and use decisions would change over time as more information and experience becomes available. We focused on a newly defined market segment: multi-car "hybrid households," in which one car has limited driving range.

We designed a four-stage mail survey that included a video of EV use and recharging, informational material, a 3-day trip diary, and a series of vehicle choice questions. Respondents had a choice of propulsion systems, body styles and sizes, driving ranges, and other features. The variety of driving ranges offered tested the hypothesis that demand for EVs will be segmented by demand for driving range. Prices of EVs varied, but tended to be up to several thousand dollars higher than those of comparable gasoline vehicles. The questionnaires were administered to 740 multi-car households in 6 metropolitan areas of California. The response rate was 61%.

In the second of two vehicle choice scenarios, 37% of the respondents chose battery-powered EVs, with ranges varying from 40 to 150 miles; 10% chose hybrid electrics with ranges up to 180 miles; and 19% chose limited-range natural gas vehicles with ranges of 80–120 miles. Altogether, 66% chose limited-range vehicles. Translating these choices into annual vehicle sales, we find that purchases of pure EVs by hybrid households would account for 7–15% of annual light duty vehicle sales.

Based on the current state of EV traction battery development, we infer from these results that any remaining barriers to marketable EVs are not related to the ability of existing batteries to provide adequate driving range.