Survey Says: Auto Execs And Consumers Uncertain Of EV Viability

white nissan leaf hatchback


While OEMs are publicizing huge future electric car ventures, they also share substantial fears regarding the segment.

Yes, GM, Ford, Volkswagen Group, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Kia-Hyundai, (we could go on and on but hopefully you get the point) are all announcing an electric car push … heck, an electric car future. But is it the truth from these OEMs?

Survey Says – Nissan LEAF Named Most Reliable Car

We know that many hardcores in the segment call many of these announcements “vaporware.” This is more true pertaining to some automakers over others, but honestly, what are they all really thinking? Well, reports show:

” … more than half (54%) of global auto executives say they believe these vehicles will fail commercially due to infrastructure challenges while 60 percent say excessive recharging times will do them in, according to the 2018 KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey.”

Added to this, U.S. automotive executives are even more concerned than global automakers. Sadly, 2/3 of all U.S. automakers surveyed assert that EVs are short-lived, mostly due to charging issues, noting that hybrids and ICE cars have a clear advantage.

Strangely, these same automakers are publicly pushing the tech forward. According to the report:

electric car

Tesla Model 3, LA Auto Show (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

“The KPMG research, which polled nearly 1,000 executives (including 90 in the United States) from leading automotive companies, found that automakers are bullish on investing across the electric powertrain spectrum. When asked where they would invest beyond the internal combustion engine (ICE) over the next five years, execs most frequently cited hybrids and plug-in hybrids (72%), followed by pure battery electric (69%) and fuel-cell (67%).

More than three-quarters of executives (77% global; 85% U.S.) say they believe fuel-cell electric mobility will be the real break-through for electric mobility.”

Essentially, these OEMs are doing what’s expected of them and prepping for current and upcoming vehicle efficiency requirements. While that may be outstanding as far as our population agrees, Gary Silberg, Automotive Sector leader at KPMG elaborates:

“There is no question that automakers are adapting to stricter vehicle efficiency standards around the world, and electrification is a big part of that equation even as manufacturers continue to squeeze MPG out of internal combustion engines. What’s unclear is the value proposition for consumers, especially on vehicles outside of the high-end, premium market. Given the multi-billion dollar investments (especially in China), the complex global regulatory environment and rapid technological disruption, there will be clear winners and losers in this EV game.”

When it comes to consumers, according to KPMG’s research, it’s much the same. Globally, people see Tesla and BMW as top dogs in the segment. Interestingly, in the U.S., Ford (of all companies) comes in third, with GM and Toyota (likely due to hybrids) tied at fourth.

Of 2,100 customers surveyed from 142 countries, 67 percent didn’t care about powertrain. However, in the U.S., 54 percent planned to stick with an ICE powertrain. Silberg concluded:

“The internal combustion engine is not perfect, but U.S. consumers will continue to stick with what they know and have come to rely on. Until the value propositions for alternative powertrains become crystal clear to them, consumers will make decisions based on convenience and the overall economics of owning a car – and right now a traditional vehicle still comes out on top for the vast majority of people.”

Keep the conversation going in our Forum. Start a new thread about this article and make your point heard.

Source: PR Newswire

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41 Comments on "Survey Says: Auto Execs And Consumers Uncertain Of EV Viability"

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Gee, if I had been screaming FOR FREAKING YEARS about how the biggest single hurdle to mass EV adoption was psychology, then none of this would be news to me.

Oh, wait — I did and it isn’t.

Seriously, this is a major contributor to tipping points in markets. People resist and find excuses not to change until it’s blindingly obvious they should and then suddenly “everybody’s doing it”. I would not be surprised in the least if in 2020 to 2022 we see waiting lists for nearly all EV models, media articles about the “plummeting demand for gasoline cars”, etc. Between limited availability — look at how often even people on this site complain about a certain vehicle not being on sale near them, or how no one makes a Rogue-size EV — and spotty public charger placement outside of big metro areas, there’s a lot of pent up demand. Remove those hurdles and buckle up, people, because that’s when things get exciting.

My thought all over and more.

100% of repeat EV customers say they believe legacy gas vehicles will eventually fail commercially due to expensive fuel challenges while 100% percent also say that having the inconvenience of regularly fuelling at pumps that aren’t in their garage and inconvenient regular maintenance required to maintain them will eventually do them in.

Yes, but this knowledge only come when living with an EV.

Exactly. Easter is the perfect example. You’re ready to go, OH I’ve got to run to the gas station and fill-er-up.

NOPE. Not with an EV.
That’s done already from home.

How do you turn off the Annoying “Plug-in Sales Scorecard” constantly jumping up and down?

That banner coming down every time you scroll up is a Feature! It’s Helping You…not. Very very annoying. Maybe if we all complain loud enough they will take that feature out of the web site. If not, well there are plenty of other sites that have EV news.

disable javascript.

It is often overlooked that a very large percentage of people don’t live in a dwelling with a “garage”.

“…the inconvenience of regularly fueling at pumps that aren’t in their garage” becomes magnitudes more inconvenient when fueling takes hours instead of minutes, and availability and location of those fueling points is spotty.

Until multifamily housing and workplace charging availability becomes mandatory, something like 50% of the population are not viable candidates for EV’s.

My niece got a Fusion Energi lease shortly after graduating college (CA rebates and deals from Ford). She rarely plugged it in during the 3 year lease – lived in an apartment with no where/way to charge, and nothing was available at her workplace. She did opportunity charge when she could, but that was rare. She would love to be driving a BEV, but dedicating the number of hours required to charge at public locations is not practical. Possible? Yes. Practical? No.

So she lived in an apartment for 3 years, and could have moved during that time into an apartment that would supported charging, but chose not to?

While it is true that not all apartments currently allow charging, there certainly ARE apartments where units are available to charge, even if at only 110V.

While there aren’t enough apartments that allow charging for everyone to charge, there certainly are apartments available for people who a determined to find one where they can charge.

I live in an apartment. There is a Level 2 charger a few hundred yards away I use. It’s 6 kWh, and 50 cents per hour.

Ugh, I mean 6 kW, not kWh.

Well the fly in the soup here is the fact that no one is making money building electric vehicles ………….yet. To succeed in the long run these vehicles will have to be competitive with ICE cars without subsidies and profitable for the makers. I think this is what the auto execs are looking at. They are wisely hedging their bets by investing in the technology so they can be ready to act if a larger adoption of EVs does manage to take place, but they are not confident that it will. I don’t think Nissan made money on the first gen Leaf. If the refresh proves profitable it could be a turning point. I know the battery tech isn’t the best but if they function well as urban/suburban commuter and gofer cars it’s the thin edge of the wedge. Battery concerns aside Nissan was the first traditional ICE car maker to go for electric in a big way. They will build as many as people want to buy unlike some manufacturers who only build as many as they want to sell. If the refreshed Leaf proves popular and profitable it will be a major breakthrough on the economic front. If… Read more »

Not true, at least beside Tesla who makes around 25% markup on each car sold and reinvest all in their crazy growth, ALL the other car makers do it on purpose to not mass produce EVs, and as everyone knows, it is basic Economy of Scale 101 (that no car maker ignore) that ANY car model built in small numbers will NOT be profitable.

Actually there are a lot less parts, assembly transport and subcontracting in an EV. ANY Corolla or Cruze EV would cost LESS than the ICE version.

An EV drivetrain is superior to any poisonous, complex, stinky, vibrating, expensive and inefficient Internal combustion Engine.

If EVs fail it will be because of the undermining from the ICE car makers, the fake news from the mainstream media and the Big Oil pressure on law makers.

BTW expensive batteries is also fake news as it’s the only part of an EV that can be used as pretext to sell them at such exaggerated high prices.

What should be in the news:
TESLA DROPS OPERATIONAL-EXPENSE with Solar Panels on the Gigafactory, and Electric Semi’s delivering from NV to California.

Tesla will make there cars profitable before anyone else.

Sometimes I wonder if the car companies use “Hollywood Accounting” when doing the math about electric cars.

Another Euro point of view

They do, at least Tesla famously does.

If it wasn’t for Musk and Ghosn there would be no BEVs today. They are pushing all the other manufacturers to get on board, but still have a way to go. Tesla M3 and follow-on MY have yet to prove they can compete in the mass market. Selling versions of the M3 up to $65k and currently cheapest at $49k is not mass market sweet spot. The LEAF is the only one seriously competing in this market. Tesla needs to bring out the $36k M3 soon, and even this is the top edge of the mass market range, it needs to be down to at least $30k for wide spread appeal.

And what do you expect auto execs of companies that derive 99% of their income from ICEs to say? “Don’t buy our profit making cars”?

Once you’ve driven an EV and Listened to DIRE STRAITS “Dire Straits” album in your EV, YOU WILL NEVER GO BACK to the NOISE of a Gas Engine.

It’s like listening to your favorite music in a quiet room while you drive: BMW i3.

You don’t realize how Primitive a Gas Engine is, until someone pulls up and you hear the “BRaaaaat BRaaaat” engine revving. Nothing sounds more primitive.

Mainstream consumers thrive on the engine revving, taking it away is what they want… a primitive need unfulfilled.

That’s why the CVT for Corolla has shift-points.

People desire the feel, rather smooth. That seems so backyard. It is their preference though.

People think that’s what they want. My Subaru with CVT has an option for shift points and paddle shifters. I tried it out when New, but never use it.

Ford comes in third, Enuff Said!

Which EV model will be the first to be produced and sold in really high quantities (200,000+), and when?

If not Tesla Model 3, than probably the Model Y. Unless a Chinese car beats them to it in the Chinese market.
Which actually is probably a good chance of that.

Surpass 200K per year, or cumulative?
If you mean cumulative, the Leaf passed 300K about 3 months ago.
Right now it looks like the absolute best case for Model 3 production is 150K-180K this year; Nissan’s goal is doubling to tripling the 47K produced in 2017, so targeting ~100K-150K. Nissan’s very unlikely to have any “production hell” issue with their experience and 3 regional factories, so unless the 40kWh battery ends pu having some serious issues, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more Leafs than Model 3s sold this year, esp. if Tesla doesn’t start making and selling the cheaper versions PDQ.
(all numbers are global)

It’s almost like these executives have never lived with an EV for an extended period. If they had, they’d realize that recharging and EV is MORE convenient than refueling an ICE vehicle the vast majority of the time, if you have a place to charge at home. And maybe they’d realize it’s time to start investing more in the fast charging network to minimize the road trip disadvantage.

Too much absolutist hand waving here. You have to look at the bigger picture and realize that changes to an industry with such a massive impact on the overall economy have to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The good news is that electrification is almost universally accepted as necessary for efficiency. It starts with simple hybrids to reduce the peak ICE loads (which are grossly inefficient), and moves on to plug-ins which provide BEV characteristics in town, but retain long distance convenience. Eventually the ICE becomes more of an optmized energy source than a driveline component, which enables other energy sources to be considered, if practical and more efficient. BEVs are definitely part of the mix, and adoption will be high in urban areas where overnight charging and daily range requirements are practical. But for rural users they simple do not store energy on board as efficiently or effectively as other chemical fuels. And low income consumers simply cannot afford the cost premium, so will stick with low upfront cost economy cars. It makes no sense to ignore these realities, which is why industry insiders admit the ICE is not going away anytime soon. We’re moving in the right direction,… Read more »

This is starting to become like the global warming debate.
The question whether EVs based on current and near-future tech, are viable – has been largely settled. China has already deployed nearly 400,000 electric *buses*, for Goodness’ sake.

And yet, people who should, and likely *do* know better, pretend to sow doubts because saying the right answer out loud would disrupt their ability to make an easy buck today off of lazy 30-year-old technology that is harmful to the planet.

The contrast between the amount of scorn and doubt heaped upon EVs by these execs (and by low-information consumers), and the amount of hype and willingness to pour heaps of $$ into a tech that’s clearly unproven and premature – namely, self-driving cars – is mind-boggling. Especially considering that most futurists conclude once self-driving cars become the norm, we’ll have far fewer cars on the road and many automakers may go bust.
So the contrast between anti-EV hype and pro-autonomous hype already slides into the realm of mass irrationality, IMHO.

What’s missing from the article is that this is not just a survey of OEM automakers. This involves a lot of suppliers. And there are thousands of parts suppliers that rely on the ICE drivetrain. Of course they want to spin it to investors that they have a future.

Would be interesting to the break out from the survey between the execs in the automakers vs suppliers.

“This just in; a survey of horse and tack industry unsure of the trend towards horseless carriages. More in a fortnight.”😄

India and China are already swimming in the smoke. If you do not stop the ICE, by the middle of the century, the planet will turn into a gas chamber.
And GM constantly inhibits the production of Bolt, I remember EV1. EV business has more prospects than ICE, Tesla and Nissan have long understood this and are now making a profit.

GM announced increased production of the Bolt EV for this year, so not sure what you mean about inhibiting it.

The study is mostly from auto suppliers not the OEMs.

I hate when I hear people try and lump everyones opinions into one pile. There are many different kinds of consumers in many different situations. There are many different motivations with different people regarding why they buy a certain car. For me, I bought an electric car (used Leaf), because economics is my main focus. I don’t have much disposable income, so I needed a car that would be the lowest cost to own. Now, the car that I thought was so ugly to me when they first came out, looks nice to me. If all public charging went away, it would not make a difference to me. I have another car in the family to handle the 10% of trips that the Leaf can’t handle. Some people are exactly the opposite of me. They have money, and a Tesla Model S is sexy and cool. That’s what motivates them. Others would never consider a Tesla, because a cool car to them has to have that engine rumble that they love. A Chevy Bolt can travel 230 miles on a charge, and is reasonably priced (after rebates). The range and cost of EVs needs to come down in order to… Read more »

I too bought a used Leaf because it was $10k for a 16k mile car and the 18 year old Camry had a leaky radiator and 160k miles on the clock. Hey, guess what? Driving 200 miles a week is saving me $75 / month over the cost of gas after paying for the electricity! Not to mention not having to worry what was going to break next on the Camry. THIS is what will convince people to junk their old ICE beaters and go electric: More money in their pocket to spend on other stuff!

Fewer moving parts on the electric means fewer parts to go bad. Apparently the only “part” that can and will go bad is the batteries, but so far no reports of this?

“they believe these vehicles will fail commercially”

Many of these companies seem to be building cars intentionally to make sure this is the result.

European and Asian companies do not have this option. Their shareholders want long term stable clients and they do not play the American “Dirty Tricks’ like planned obsolescence and lifetime design centers that are the same length as the payment time (five or six years) nor do they waste time on poorly designed and built ‘cheaper versions’. Remember the VW Bug? integrity and only real improvements for a very long time? China has such a huge market their nation cannot afford “crap cars’, Vega, Corvair, Pinto, Edsel, or annual model changes, a very expensive venture not in producing a better model but in forcing your current model to appear outdated.

“in the U.S., 54 percent planned to stick with an ICE powertrain.”

Considering that EV sales are less than 2%, the other 46% who aren’t locked into ICE cars provides plenty of buyers to double the market for EV’s each year for a number of years. I don’t see these numbers as a bad sign.

208 million drivers in the US in 2008. Probably a few more now. 46 percent would be about 100 million that would be open to an EV as their next car.