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Do the math: J.D. Power study of electric vehicles

The punchline, says, is simple.

The problem, said Neal Oddes, senior director of the green practice at J.D. Power, is that there “still is a disconnect between the reality of the cost of an EV and the cost savings that consumers want to achieve.”

A battery-powered all-electric vehicle will cost about $10,000 more than a similar gasoline-powered vehicle, he said. Based on annual fuel savings, it would take an average of 6.5 years to recoup that money.

“The payback period is longer than most consumers keep their vehicle,” Oddes said. “The bottom line is that the price has to come down, which requires a technological quantum leap to reduce the battery price.”

So how have the individual manufacturers done in this market segment, a segment that J.D. Power and Associates say will not take off until automakers lower prices and demonstrate the economic benefits to consumers? Nisan sold less than 6,800 Leaf electric cars this year though October, down 16% from the same period last year. Honda leased only 48 of the electric version of the Fit this year. Mitsubishi sold fewer than 500 of its MiEV mini-car. Tesla Motors has delivered fewer than 300 of its Model S electic hatchback and expects to sell about 3,000 this year.

People who buy an electric car cite environmental friendliness as the most important feature.

Almost one-half — 44 percent — of electric vehicle owners ranked low emissions compared with gasoline vehicles as the top benefit of their vehicle.

But for people who are considering buying an electric vehicle, just 11percent cite environmental concerns as their top reason while 45 percent list saving money on fuel.

The J.D. Powers study found that the saving on fuel could be significant!

“EV owners report an average monthly increase in their utility bill of just $18 to recharge their vehicle’s battery — which is significantly less than the $147 that they would typically pay for gasoline during the same period of time,” the study said.

(Note added November 14, 2012: One Silicon Valley friend of mine points out that by leasing an EV he saves roughly 2 HOURS a day in commute time, since such vehicles are allowed to use “EOV Lanes” [also called “carpool lanes,” but I prefer to call them “motorcycle lanes” 😉 ] on California highways. As someone who used to spend an average of 3 hours a day commuting both ways to Silicon Valley when on FOUR wheels, I really appreciate his comments. It’s either time or money, and sometimes it’s BOTH.)

-Bill at

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