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In just six months, major automakers will initiate one of the greatest experiments in modern automotive history: the roll-out of the mainstream electrified vehicle (EV). Over 30 models of EV are expected by 2013. The Virtual EV Test Drive project addresses three major education-based barriers which confront a consumer’s decision to buy an EV:
- Consumers lack information about their current driving habits. Specifically, drivers do not know their own daily and annual mileage and fuel expenditures, and are confused about comparing one miles-per-gallon statistic to another, as well as the relationship of the mpg “sticker” to real-world fuel economy.
- Drivers do not understand the differences between conventional vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and battery electric vehicles.
- Many consumers are not interested in strict economic rationality when purchasing vehicles: they often value non-monetary attributes more highly.
Experts agree that overcoming the education barrier is of paramount importance. “Consumer acceptance of vehicle electrification depends on public awareness and education, which…remains very weak,” said consultants Ernst and Young in a recent report. The Virtual EV Test Drive is poised to fill that education gap.
The project is the:
- Winner of the CITRIS Big Ideas Contest
- Winner of the DOW Sustainable Student Contest
- Semi-finalist in the MIT Clean Energy Prize
- Semi-finalist in the Clean Tech Open