Among the findings:
In the first section of the survey 45 percent of Canadians chose a conventional gas vehicle, even with low-cost batteries. In that scenario, another 33 percent chose traditional hybrids. Only 12 percent chose plug-in hybrid vehicles. That left only single-digit percentages, 5 percent and 4 percent, choosing battery electric or fuel-cell vehicles. Even that is orders of magnitude more electric or fuel-cell cars cars than are sold now.
The researchers also wanted to know what personality factors caused people to choose low- or no-carbon vehicles, and whether different personality traits caused them to choose different vehicles. The motivational factors they considered were traditional values (such as might be expected to lead a person to buy a conventional gasoline vehicle), altruistic values, an environmentally oriented lifestyle,actual environmental concern, or a technologically oriented lifestyle.
Perhaps predictably, conventional vehicles scored well with all types of buyers and did especially well with buyers who held traditional values. Conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius scored especially well with technologically oriented buyers. Both of those groups gravitated toward plug-in hybrids, along with altruistic buyers. Battery electric cars scored big with Altruistic buyers, those concerned about the environment, and those with an environmentally oriented lifestyle. Although few buyers chose fuel cell vehicles, those who did were about evenly split between altruists and those who held traditional values.
In the final part of the study, researchers found that no matter what subsidies were pushed, from no cost offset and very little public charging infrastructure to a $7,500 rebate plus widespread Level 2 and Level 3 public fast charging and hydrogen fueling stations had much effect on adoption of battery electric cars or fuel cell vehicles.
A $7,500 purchase subsidy served to increase interest in plug-in hybrids, which increased even more with additional public charging infrastructure.
Interestingly, dispensing with electric-vehicle incentives and focusing entirely on rolling hydrogen refueling out to every public gas station had a dramatic effect on the adoption of fuel cell vehicles at the expense of plug-ins of any kind. . . .
However, within the study's limitations, it's possible to draw a few conclusions about car buyers, at least in Canada:
First, cheaper batteries alone won't get consumers to abandon their internal combustion cars for any type of electric car.
Second, continuing $7,500 purchase incentives for plug-in cars can have a dramatic effect in increasing the adoption of plug-in hybrids, especially in conjunction with increased public charging (although it's not clear whether those buyers will plug their cars in consistently.) Such incentives, however, have little effect on the adoption of pure electric cars. . . .
Third, if hydrogen fueling infrastructure could be spread as widely as gasoline refueling, fuel cells seem to capture the imagination of the buying public in a way that electric cars don't.