The Goldilocks EV: Survey Tracks Down the Most Appealing Nonexistent Electric Car

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Many current EV owners might think their own vehicle is just right for their needs, and they’d probably be correct, but the take rate for such vehicles suggests the vast majority of the buying public feels otherwise. Low single-digit percentages continue to greet EVs in the North American market.

What qualities would a hypothetical EV need to posses to satisfy the broadest swath of the buying public? A survey conducted by Big Motor Oil set out to find out.

Actually, the company was Castrol, and the participants totaled 9,000 consumers, 750 fleet managers, and 30 automotive industry professionals spread out through the U.S., Western Europe, India, China, and Japan. The takeaway? Range, baby, and a low buy-in.

Compiling all the responses, Castrol averaged out the ideal price, range, and charging time for luring ICE owners into an electric car. The “tipping point,” as Castrol called it. It seems the greatest number of respondents would be tempted by a vehicle that cost $36,000, recharged fully in 31 minutes, and delivered 291 miles of driving range per charge.

Current EV inventory has never been closer to filling this desire, but battery packs remain pricey, heavy, and not quite as energy dense as many would like. The next few years should see battery costs drop further, with modest (at the very least) improvements in energy density, as well as faster public charging infrastructure and wider availability of vehicles that can take advantage of it. Automakers know they need to make advances to foster greater EV adoption.

Image: Nissan

It’s basically an effort to fill in the middle. Want a high-zoot, long-range EV? They’ve existed for years. Looking for something no-frills that lacks a tailpipe and can get you to the grocery store and maybe the suburbs for the price of a nicely decked-out midsize car? They’ve had those for years. It’s the gap between the two that needs closing.

There also needs to be an increase in diversity among body styles; something automakers are already working on. The next few years will see a slew of domestic and foreign electric SUVs, crossovers, and pickups.

“Although just one in 50 new cars sold is an EV, the majority of consumer respondents to our  survey said they themselves would consider buying an EV in 2024, just four years away,” the Castrol study stated.

“However, 61% of consumers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach and believe that research and development into battery technology will be fundamental to driving the development of the fully electric car market. And although 58% of fleet managers are personally motivated to make a positive difference to the environment by making their fleet fully electric, over half (54%) are waiting for their competitors to make the switch before they do.”

There’s also a disconnect between consumer intentions and predicted “mainstream adoption” of electric vehicles, meaning when more than half of new vehicles sold lack an internal combustion engine. For individuals, the amassed countries returned an adoption year of 2024. Mainstream adoption in these markets, when averaged out, comes to 2030, however. For the U.S., the study showed the majority of respondents claiming they planned to purchase an EV by 2025. That’s not something you can take to the bank.

Mainstream adoption in the U.S. isn’t pegged until 2032 — the same year as Germany and Norway, both being far greener climes for new vehicles.

Now, what’s in an EV for Castrol to root for, you ask? Advanced transmission e-fluids, apparently.

[Image: Toyota, Nissan]

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