Study: Electric Vehicles Account for 0.1 % of U.S. Auto Sales

By Penny Starr | November 29, 2012 | 4:41 PM EST

A woman demonstrates BYD's new charging and discharging technology on a BYD e6 electric car during the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing, China, Monday, April 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

( – A study released by the consumer advocacy group J.D. Powers and Associates shows that battery electric vehicles account for 0.1 percent of new car sales in the United States.

The global market research group’s study, 2012 Electric Vehicle Ownership Experience Study, was announced on Nov. 11 in a press release, but the entire study was not publically released, according to John Tews, the organization’s director of media relations.

Tews told that the hybrid electric vehicle/plug-in electric hybrid sales account for 3.3 percent of light-vehicle sales (470,000 vehicles) in the United States in 2012, while battery electric vehicles market share is 0.1 percent (11,000 vehicles).

The study revealed that environmental benefits were not enough to convince consumers to buy electric vehicles, especially when the increase in cost of these vehicles compared with gas-powered vehicles can range from $10,000 (all-electric vehicles or AEV) to $16,000 (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or PHEV).

The study also shows that even based on annual fuel savings, it would take an average of 6.5 years for AEV owners to recoup the $10,000 premium they paid to buy the car, while the PHEV owner won’t recoup the cost for 11 years.

"Current EV owners focus on the emotional benefits of owning an electric vehicle –which are having a positive effect on the environment – but the way for manufacturers to take EVs to the masses and increase sales is to address the economic equation," Neal Oddes, senior director of the green practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said in the press release.

"There still is a disconnect between the reality of the cost of an EV and the cost savings that consumers want to achieve,” Oddes said.

"The bottom line is that the price has to come down, which requires a technological quantum leap to reduce the battery price,” Oddes said. “There also needs to be an improvement in the infrastructure, or the number of charging stations outside of the home. Until those two concerns are addressed, EV sales will remain flat."

The study found that the size of battery electric vehicles is the second-most frequently cited reason for rejected electric vehicles. Rounding out the top three reasons consumers steer away from electric vehicles is reliability.

The study is based on online responses from more than 7,600 vehicle owners and panelists who either currently own an EV, are considering an EV for their next vehicle purchase, or shopped for an EV but decided not to purchase one. The research was conducted in October 2012.