More than 50% of people surveyed in the service territories of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Southern Company would prefer to charge an electric vehicle (EV) at home, according to surveys conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The EPRI surveys also characterized consumers' perceptions of EV ownership and their expectations of electric utilities and associated services.

“These surveys help in developing preliminary forecasts for electric vehicle adoption and identify the corresponding infrastructure and charging needs,” said Mark McGranaghan, vice president of power delivery and utilization at EPRI. “As we survey people in different regions of the country, we see different perceptions about electric vehicle technology. This will help utilities in developing their specific plans to meet the needs of their customers.”

Almost two-thirds of respondents (59% for TVA, 61% for Southern) expect their local utility to develop public charging stations, while more than half (52% for TVA, 57% for Southern) expect their utility to offer installation of at-home charging. A substantial portion of power customers also will look to their electricity provider to offer potential EV buyers “buyer's guide” information about various types and makes of EVs.

What factors influence a car buyer's likelihood to go electric? Survey results point to the availability of multiple locations to charge and the availability of fast charging technology. Results also show that consumers may be hesitant to pay for faster charging, with more than 50% in both surveys unwilling to pay US$500 to install an optional 220-V upgrade system in their home for fast charging EVs. The surveys provide insight into several areas of consumer sentiment:

  • What and when residents drive and how far
  • Impact of knowledge on EV purchase interest
  • Understanding vehicle charging and willingness to pay
  • Vehicle purchase intentions.

When asked if they would purchase an EV if it were available in the make and model of their preference, approximately 15% of survey respondents indicated they would.

In 2010, EPRI published results of a similar survey conducted in conjunction with Southern California Edison that characterized Southern California consumers' perceptions of EV ownership. That survey found that 95% of respondents prefer at-home charging.

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