The coming Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid have generated buzz about alternative-fuel vehicles. But hypothetical ownership is one thing, and plunking down hard-earned cash is another.
According to a survey by ALG, which sets residual values for the auto industry, cost continues to be the biggest obstacle to EVs.
Fifty-five percent of the 2,200 people polled in ALG's Alterative Fuel Automotive Consumer Attitudes Survey said they are unwilling to pay any more for an electric vehicle with a range of 100 miles than for a gasoline-powered vehicle.
And even if they were interested in purchasing an EV, more than four in 10 respondents said they would be unwilling to pay to install a charging station where their vehicle would be stored.
Eric Lyman, ALG's director of original-equipment manufacturer relations, said the survey is one of several tools the company is using to help it forecast residual values for the Leaf and Volt. He said ALG expects to release residuals for the vehicles no earlier than late summer.
Lyman said there is little doubt that, at the onset, the Leaf and Volt will sell at a premium compared with their closest gasoline counterparts -- the Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Versa and Sentra -- buoyed by limited inventory, early adopters, environmentalists and those who want to impress their friends.
But what concerns ALG is what happens to the prices of these vehicles once they reach the used-car market.
That's where the survey comes in. It also revealed:
-- Only 15 percent of respondents said they plan to buy an alternative-powertrain vehicle -- meaning a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, diesel, biodiesel or hydrogen vehicle. An additional 41 percent said they are considering such a vehicle.
But 38 percent said they are uninterested in the vehicles, and 6 percent strongly oppose them.
-- Consumers consider long-term fuel savings the top benefit of alternative-fuel vehicles.
-- Concerns about the number of miles traveled on a single charge -- also known as range anxiety -- is curtailing interest in all-electric vehicles.