It may be should consumers get over their sticker shock over electric cars. A new survey by Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research says 44 percent of respondents would be "extremely or very interested" in buying a battery-powered unit.
With nearly three dozen plug-in electric models expected to be introduced by 2012, that's some serious potential market activity. Maybe it'll open up room at the pump.
Nissan's Leaf and Chevy's Volt are on their way. And Ford announced this week the first markets selected for its Ford Focus Electric's debut next year. They are: Atlanta, Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va., Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
"This is the first step in rolling out the Focus Electric," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas, in a statement. He said Ford would evaluate markets as demand grows and "the country continues to build up its electric vehicle infrastructure."
The news comes on the heels of an announcement by General Electric that it will convert about half of its global corporate fleet to electrics and will partner with fleet customers to deploy a total of 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015. Most of those will be Chevy Volt sedans.
“By electrifying our own fleet, we will accelerate the adoption curve, drive scale, and move electric vehicles from anticipation to action," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt in a statement.
In the same release, FedEx Chairman, President and CEO Fred Smith said GE's move helps ramp up production and lower prices of electric vehicles, bringing elevated visibility and acceptability to the public at large. FedEx is also incorporating electric trucks and alternative energy vehicles into its fleet.
It means the quiet vehicles will be increasingly common.
Pike Research said its survey "found that, based on Americans’ driving and commute patterns, PEVs should be a strong fit for a large number of consumers." In fact, 81 percent of respondents said better fuel efficiency would be an important factor when purchasing their next vehicle.
However, Pike officials found some drawbacks. They said consumers may have a difficult time justifying the increased cost of purchasing an electric vehicle even when they pay nothing for gasoline. The savings at the pump could take many, many months. Unless, of course, you replaced the aging Bentley with a Leaf.
Photo: Ford Focus chassis.