Cars are the most durable and most expensive consumer goods. Purchasing a vehicle is therefore a significant act. Not only do the environmental and macroeconomic issues run very deep, but certain conditions and criteria must also be fulfilled in the eyes of the motorists for them to be won over. The electric vehicle is no exception to these rules. There’s no denying that the technology breaks with the past, yet it remains, first and foremost, a vehicle. Despite the fact that there is an emotional aspect to the act of purchasing, buying a car essentially boils down to the need for mobility. So, in order to determine the potential and future of the electric vehicle, it is necessary to check whether its different characteristics are compatible with the expectations of motorists.
At present, the limited range is the main weakness of the electric vehicle and an undeniable obstacle to it gaining the acceptance of households.
83% of those who replied claimed this limitation to be a feature of the electric vehicle, with the Germans being the most inclined to think this (93%) and the Turks being the least likely to believe this, in relative terms (69%).
This feature supports the image of a vehicle that is reserved for drivers making short trips for 70% of those who responded. Once again, the Germans are the most likely to say so (86%), while the Portuguese are far from sharing this point of view (59%).
Always going further
The short range appears in the top 3 reasons why those who replied would not buy an EV. This weakness was pointed out by 42% of the sample.
57% correctly estimate the range to be between 100 and 300 km. With the exception of the Tesla models, which boast a range of 500 km, most electric vehicles on the European market fall within this range. For example, the Citroën C-Zero, the Renault ZOE ZE 22 kWh and the Volkswagen e-Golf 7 respectively have a manufacturer’s range of 150 km, 210 km and 300 km.
What’s more, motorists are well aware of the difference between the declared range and the actual range. This difference is due to the style of driving, the use of comfort features such as the air conditioning, heating, radio and especially the weather – battery life is drastically reduced during periods of extreme cold.
« It’s scary to think that on leaving a city, you get 300 km and then, nothing. If you are off the beaten track, where can you recharge? »
« Driving with the heating switched off at a temperature of -9°C, or reducing the range by 40 km because the heating, ventilation, lights and wipers are on. »
In theory, battery life should not be an obstacle because 86% of those who replied cover less than 100 km per day. While an electric vehicle may be suitable for most of these motorists, the limit on the range, the journey planning, battery charge management and anxiety about running out of charge outweigh the benefits for many users. The barrier is therefore attributable to psychological factors more than functional features. The reluctance to embrace the electric vehicle will remain strong as long as there is no significant improvement in battery life. 40% of motorists claim that they would only be ready to buy an electric vehicle when the range exceeds 400 km.
Always being able to recharge the batteries
Given the battery life limitations, the need to have regular access to a charging station is important. 88% of those who replied associate electric vehicle use with the need to have access to a charging point at home or at work.
For many, the only solution to this limitation is to get some work done on your home and install a compatible charging socket with the corresponding extra cost. Indeed, this aspect comes up in Spain, Norway, United States, Brazil, Poland and Turkey as an obstacle to buying an electric vehicle.
But, as 82% of those who responded have a parking space in a private or sheltered space, access to a charging point may therefore technically not be an obstacle to using an electric vehicle. That being said, the cost of installing a domestic charging station is borne by the motorist. In France, the price of such a device fluctuates between €1,000 to €2,000, with a tax credit of 30%.
« I have no way of charging my vehicle where I live because I don’t have a basement. It’s a city car that is not made for people who live in the city. »
Motorists expect better from the offer provided by charging stations on public roads: 76% of those who responded consider the current infrastructures to be very inadequate,
and 60% believe that the stations are not in the right locations.
Norway, the champion of the electric car, is a case in point. The country is actually overwhelmed by the success of its incentive measures. In Oslo, the 1,300 charging points are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of some 80,000 electric and rechargeable hybrid cars on the roads.
Planning and optimising long journeys where the battery needs recharging, can sometimes prove difficult due to incompatibilities between the socket and the charging cable. In order to simplify charging systems, the sockets began to be standardised in 2014 in Europe with a European standard that trims the choice down to the so-called type 2 terminals.
« In terms of the charging stations, work still needs to be done. I was sent to a charging point and it was not the right one. »
« If they can produce an electric car that will do 500 km without stopping and that can be recharged in a quarter of an hour, I will take it. »
Whether at home or in a public space, the issue of the battery charging time is paramount. 75% of those who replied associate the electric vehicle with a long battery charging time
and 70% demand a charging time of less than 45 minutes to be interested in an electric vehicle.
Although this level of performance would have been inconceivable a few years ago, it is now being considered possible. While recharging a battery to 80% takes nearly 10 hours at home, this time drops significantly when using the public charging stations. The massive deployment of «fast charge» stations in the coming years will satisfy the most reluctant motorists by delivering an 80% charge in just 30 minutes.