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Electric Cars Face Rough Road in Changing Perceptions

'Range anxiety' is stalling consumer interest in electric vehicles . / Credit: Run down plug-in vehicle battery image via Shutterstock

Sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) have grown significantly over the past year and are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 30 percent through 2020 in the U.S. But PEV makers have not been successful in changing misperceptions about these vehicles in the marketplace, which has dampened consumer interest, a new survey shows.

Topping the list of objections to buying or leasing a PEV is concern about the vehicle's range—will it have enough juice to get me where I need to be and back. But that's not the only misperception these electric vehicles face in the marketplace, according to a survey conducted by Navigant Research.

Equally damaging is the belief that PEVs are no more economical than gasoline vehicles. More than a third (37 percent) of the 1,000 consumers surveyed believes that PEVs are actually more expensive to own in the long run.

Additionally, 37 percent believe that PEV batteries are dangerous, a sentiment reinforced by news reports of the grounding of all Boeing Dreamliner passenger jets as a result of problems with their onboard batteries.

And even those respondents who expressed interest in PEVs showed signs of concern, as more than one- third believes that current PEV owners are often stranded as a result of their vehicle running out of power.

"So-called 'range anxiety' continues to be the No. 1 reason cited by consumers who are not interested in purchasing PEVs," said Dave Hurst, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. "A number of other negative perceptions continue to persist, however, helping to explain why overall consumer interest in PEVs has declined since 2011."

Follow BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith on Twitter @nedbsmith. Follow us on Twitter @BNDarticles, Facebook or Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.