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Poll: Gas prices up but buyers not hot for electrics

May 27, 2011
Nearly six of 10 Americans—57 percent—say they won’t buy an all-electric car no matter the price of gas, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll.
But for Nissan, maker of the only mainstream pure electric car now on sale, that’s a good sign.
The company’s take is that “as many as 40 percent are considering driving electric vehicles,” USA Today reported May 25. Nissan sold 1,044 Leaf electrics through April since its introduction in December, according to Autodata.
Researcher J.D. Power and Associates projects sales of pure electrics this year will be 10,727, rising to 95,939 units in 2015. Industry estimates for total 2011 light-vehicle sales are in the 13 million range, rising to about 14 million by 2015.
The anti-electric sentiment unmasked by the poll shows that pure electrics — defined in the poll question as “an electric car that you could only drive for a limited number of miles at one time” — could have trouble getting a foothold in the U.S.
Such cars “are very much niche vehicles. They find acceptance among a core group of passionistas, but too many questions remain for mainstream consumers,” says CEO Jeremy Anwyl. He says consumers worry about range per charge, recharge time and battery replacement cost.
Electrics also are priced thousands of dollars more than similar gasoline cars. The poll of 1,024 adults nationwide has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was done May 12 to 15, when the average gas price was about $3.98. It’s now about $3.83.