• Survey: The majority of shoppers plan to spend under $25,000 on next car
  • That figure isn't enough for most shoppers to afford an electric vehicle
  • EV models won't find huge sales until they become less expensive

A new survey says that car shoppers like the idea of electric vehicles, but not the price. That's the latest from Navigant Research, based in Boulder, Colo. Navigant's Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey found that shoppers generally have a favorable opinion of EVs, but they don't want to spend the money required to buy one.

According to Navigant, a whopping 71 percent of car shoppers plan to spend less than $25,000 on their next vehicle purchase -- and 43 percent won't even spend more than $20,000 when the time comes for their next car.

The result is that most shoppers are priced out of the electric vehicle market. Just the Nissan Leaf starts under $25,000, and that's only true for a base-level Leaf S model after the federal government's $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit. Before the credit, the Leaf starts at $29,650 with shipping.

But while most shoppers won't spend EV money on their next vehicle, many drivers still like the idea of an electric vehicle. Navigant's survey said that 61 percent of shoppers have a favorable opinion of EVs, while 67 percent feel favorably about hybrids. That means most drivers say they're willing to try an alternative fuel vehicle, but only if it were a little cheaper. Still, Navigant says it's likely that EVs will become more affordable in the coming years.

"Batteries make up about half the cost of vehicles," said Dave Hurst, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. "We're anticipating that battery prices will come down by about a third by 2020."

With lowered battery prices, the cars will become cheaper, too. Hybrids have already dropped in price significantly, with the least expensive model -- Honda's 5-door Insight hatchback -- now starting at around $19,500 with shipping. Toyota's newly released Prius c starts at under $20,000 with shipping, which makes it around $5,000 less expensive than a traditional Prius.

If electric vehicles do come down in price, which ones will shoppers choose? According to the survey, 44 percent of drivers consider themselves somewhat familiar with the Chevrolet Volt, while 31 percent said the same about the Nissan Leaf. That could indicate that automakers still have to do more marketing to increase awareness of their EV offerings.

What it means to you: Until EVs become cheaper, it's unlikely that they'll find mass-market appeal similar to that of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and other highly popular models.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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