The Goldilocks EV: Survey Tracks Down the Most Appealing Nonexistent Electric Car

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the goldilocks ev survey tracks down the most appealing nonexistent electric car

Many current EV owners might think their own vehicle is just right for their needs, and they’d probably be correct, but the take rate for such vehicles suggests the vast majority of the buying public feels otherwise. Low single-digit percentages continue to greet EVs in the North American market.

What qualities would a hypothetical EV need to posses to satisfy the broadest swath of the buying public? A survey conducted by Big Motor Oil set out to find out.

Actually, the company was Castrol, and the participants totaled 9,000 consumers, 750 fleet managers, and 30 automotive industry professionals spread out through the U.S., Western Europe, India, China, and Japan. The takeaway? Range, baby, and a low buy-in.

Compiling all the responses, Castrol averaged out the ideal price, range, and charging time for luring ICE owners into an electric car. The “tipping point,” as Castrol called it. It seems the greatest number of respondents would be tempted by a vehicle that cost $36,000, recharged fully in 31 minutes, and delivered 291 miles of driving range per charge.

Current EV inventory has never been closer to filling this desire, but battery packs remain pricey, heavy, and not quite as energy dense as many would like. The next few years should see battery costs drop further, with modest (at the very least) improvements in energy density, as well as faster public charging infrastructure and wider availability of vehicles that can take advantage of it. Automakers know they need to make advances to foster greater EV adoption.

It’s basically an effort to fill in the middle. Want a high-zoot, long-range EV? They’ve existed for years. Looking for something no-frills that lacks a tailpipe and can get you to the grocery store and maybe the suburbs for the price of a nicely decked-out midsize car? They’ve had those for years. It’s the gap between the two that needs closing.

There also needs to be an increase in diversity among body styles; something automakers are already working on. The next few years will see a slew of domestic and foreign electric SUVs, crossovers, and pickups.

“Although just one in 50 new cars sold is an EV, the majority of consumer respondents to our survey said they themselves would consider buying an EV in 2024, just four years away,” the Castrol study stated.

“However, 61% of consumers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach and believe that research and development into battery technology will be fundamental to driving the development of the fully electric car market. And although 58% of fleet managers are personally motivated to make a positive difference to the environment by making their fleet fully electric, over half (54%) are waiting for their competitors to make the switch before they do.”

There’s also a disconnect between consumer intentions and predicted “mainstream adoption” of electric vehicles, meaning when more than half of new vehicles sold lack an internal combustion engine. For individuals, the amassed countries returned an adoption year of 2024. Mainstream adoption in these markets, when averaged out, comes to 2030, however. For the U.S., the study showed the majority of respondents claiming they planned to purchase an EV by 2025. That’s not something you can take to the bank.

Mainstream adoption in the U.S. isn’t pegged until 2032 — the same year as Germany and Norway, both being far greener climes for new vehicles.

Now, what’s in an EV for Castrol to root for, you ask? Advanced transmission e-fluids, apparently.

[Image: Toyota, Nissan]

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  • Bubbajet Bubbajet on Aug 31, 2020

    I'm currently driving a hybrid 2018 Accord, and it's by far the best car I've ever had. Which, by the way, includes three full-size pickups, a small pickup, a full-size Caddy, among other things. Love this car. The best thing is - you just treat it like a car. No gee-whiz gimcrackery. Get in, press the "start" button, and drive away. It doesn't have odd screens, or weird styling, or a full-roof sunroof. I'm not going to win a race - but the car gets out of its own way. The ride is excellent. And I'm averaging 48.6MPG over the life of the car. My next car will be all-electric. In fact, if Tesla had shipped the Model 3 about 6 months earlier, that's what I'd have now, with all of its oddities. However, Tesla is now off the table for me, with real mainstream cars (which Tesla could make and I wish they would) coming on-line in the next couple of years. Must-haves: Cloth seats and no freaking full-glass roof. It's hot and sunny here. A screen in front of the driver. After driving a Model Y for an hour, I'm convinced it's a necessity, particularly if you're going to use automated systems. Must be able to see what the car is doing/thinking, right in front of you A reasonable ride, and the ability to buy non-low-profile tires. Lordy Real-world 250 mile range, 300 is better Current charge speeds are right at the minimum for road trips - faster just makes it better No d*** shiny black plastic! Regular-car styling. I'm not trying to make a statement, I want a car Starting price in the low $30K range, although that might not get the full-size battery. I don't mind paying into the $40K range for what I want Is it too much to ask for a sunglasses holder? How about two? Honestly, it looks like the Polestar 2 and the VW ID.4 are going to nail it. Not happy about Android Auto in the Polestar, but eh. ICE is on the way out. It'll take a few decades - but electric is the way of the future. I can't wait.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Aug 31, 2020

      The Polestar 2 is the moist stylish EV so far, IMO. It's pricey now, but they're promising cheaper versions soon. A detail: The Polestar's operating system is technically called "Android Automotive OS", which isn't the same as the Android Auto app. Basically, I think Google wrote an entire operating system for vehicle mfrs to use as they wish:

  • Vulpine Vulpine on Sep 01, 2020

    "Many current EV owners might think their own vehicle is just right for their needs, and they’d probably be correct, but the take rate for such vehicles suggests the vast majority of the buying public feels otherwise. Low single-digit percentages continue to greet EVs in the North American market." ---- The low 'take rate' for BEVs is more due to a lack of availability than anything else, today. Sure, more brands are coming online and Tesla has multiplied their manufacturing capacity but even so, between them all there's only about a 750,000 annual productivity rate at the moment (not counting China's low-cost BEVs which are also relatively short-ranged at about 80 miles or less.) Considering China is the world's largest adopter of BEVs and Tesla is pretty much selling every one they can make (30% market share in China), it's obvious there's more demand than the legacy OEMs expected or planned for. Now, before somebody else brings it up, I am aware that Tesla's sales are dropping in Europe but there are two legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with demand. Simply put, Tesla isn't shipping as many to Europe (focused on just a couple specific markets such as the UK in particular) and with the German "Gigafactory" under construction, some buyers are waiting for locally-assembled models in the same way the Chinese market slowed while the Shanghai factory was being built. Once that factory opens, the odds are very high that Tesla will realize record European sales, at least for the first few years. But this isn't just about Tesla and it's clear that the other brands are realizing their mistake in attempting to oppose this shift to battery power. Volkswagen and its associated brands are working to get the programming bugs out of their first production models and once they are reasonably stable, they will more than double the available BEV supply and give customers a broader variety of styles and types. Unique models such as their electric Microbus and other somewhat retro-styled models will certainly have an impact and I personally see the resurgence of truly unique body styles as fuel economy requirements won't be as critical to the body shape any more. Maybe we can see some limited-run throwbacks to classic European and American cars of the '50s and '60s that aren't so crippled by underpowered motivators. I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a take-off of the old '50s Corvettes, Thunderbirds, the original Alpine roadster (think the little white car The Saint (Roger Moore) drove). Don't forget we've already seen a BEV version of the classic Jaguar XK-E during the recent Royal Wedding; now imagine having one for yourself! New styles can be more extreme, too. Imagine all of the fantasy cars we've seen in movies and TV or on the concept stage at auto shows. No more will they have their forms dictated by needing a huge block of iron in the nose or tail. You want something like the original Firebird concept? Much easier with a 'skateboard chassis' and custom body. Using a combination of body-on-frame design and 'space frame' body structure, you get the best of both worlds and a return to individual identity in car design.

  • Dukeisduke Globally-speaking, in August, BYD was the fourth best-selling brand name. They pushed Ford (which had been fourth) to sixth, behind Hyundai.
  • 2ACL Some of the reported issues sound expensive for all but the most committed wrenchers. Scant documentation on some of the previous work is also a minus. I wouldn't mind something like this, but whereas the seller is trying to make room, I don't have any for something this intensive.
  • Merc190 Any Alfa has a unique character built in, so there's that, once you get it running properly, until it doesn't...
  • Syke Yeah, no sympathy for the dealerships whatsoever. I've gone enough thru training a dealership's salesperson under the guise of trying to buy an EV. I'm pleasantly surprised that Ford's insisting on Level 3 DC Fast Charging rather than the usual Level 2 that most dealerships have now. This is definitely forcing a commitment on the part of the dealer that they're going to be serious about selling EV's.Oh yeah, DC Fast Charging is never free, so you're definitely talking another income stream for the dealership. The big question is are they smart enough to make something real of it?I continue to say that the legacy automakers biggest problem when it comes to selling EV's is their own dealerships. And this article really drives that home.
  • SCE to AUX Yeah, I'm going to spend 5 or 6 figures on a used/abused car from a punk.