Mini will soon enter the world of electric cars but, before it does, the automaker is doing its homework about what car shoppers want from an EV. The study, commissioned by Mini USA, yielded some surprises, particularly in terms of daily driving range requirements, and knowing where and when a recharge is possible. Based upon the findings, a lot of work remains to be done when it comes to electric car consumer education.
Mini USA, working in partnership with market research firm Engine International Inc., asked 1,004 adults over the age of 18 (and split evenly between men and women), a number of questions and possible concerns about owning and operating an electric car.
First, let’s start with a response that won’t shock anyone. When asked about the best use for an electric vehicle, a total of 63-percent of respondents said EVs are best for daily commutes and zipping around a city. That hints that concerns about driving range remain a limiting factor for people thinking about electric cars. Conversely, when asked more directly about driving range, a total of 73-percent of people polled said 75 miles on a charge is sufficient to meet their daily needs.
That’s significantly lower than the driving range of even the least expensive Tesla Model 3 (220 miles per charge), or the Chevrolet Bolt hatchback (238 miles). It’s also well below what the upcoming Mini Cooper S E electric is expected to offer, once it officially goes on sale in 2020.
Powered by the same electric motor and battery pack found in the BMW i3 city car, the Mini Cooper S E is expected to have about 120-150 miles of range per charge. Exact driving range, power figures, and a starting price for the electrified-Mini have not yet been released, however.
Rather than range, the survey pointed to larger issues related to understanding charging infrastructure and how the technology applies to a typical EV. Approximately 75-percent of respondents did not know the location of their nearest EV charging station. And when asked how long they thought it takes to fully charge an electric car, the answer landed with a thud.
The most popular response, as reported by 28-percent of those surveyed, was simply “I don’t know.” The next most popular answer was “30 minutes,” with 25-percent of responses.
“The more intelligence we gather, the more we can educate consumers about the many benefits of electric mobility,” said Andrew Cutler, head of corporate communications for Mini USA, stated in survey’s press release. That’ll take some doing, since two additional questions received conflicting answers related to EV acceptance.
On one hand, 70-percent of respondents stated Federal tax credits and other government-led incentives to buy an electric car would not have any bearing on their consideration of an EV. As the prices of electric cars have gradually dropped – and tax credits dry up for certain automakers who’ve sold larger numbers of EVs – this is a positive sign that future sales aren’t necessarily tied to putting more government cash on the hood, so to speak.
That being said, 66-percent of those polled still believe electric cars are most popular with early tech adopters. This is a strong indication that electric cars are viewed with skepticism by those who don’t need to be the first on their block with a new gadget, especially one with four wheels attached to it.