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The City of London is promoting electric vehicles

Getting urban consumers to buy an electric vehicle may be easier than most car executives and policymakers think.

That’s one of the conclusions from a report written by McKinsey consultants in the latest issue of the McKinsey quarterly.

McKinsey says research conducted in late 2009 showed that hybrid and full electric vehicles could account for 16 pc of new car sales in New York City by 2015; 9 pc in Paris; and 5 pc in Shanghai.

The consultants found “big clusters of potential early adopters” in major cities. They also found that those early adopters in New York and Shanghai were willing to change driving and parking habits to own an electric vehicle. And they were willing to cope with limited availability of battery charging stations.

Mckinsey said preferences differ from one city to the next. In Shanghai, potential buyers wanted plug-in hybrids, while in New York they preferred battery-only vehicles. In Shanghai they would rather have “novel and distinctive design,” while New Yorkers preferred more conventionally styled vehicles.

Large financial incentives aren’t decisive in pushing electric vehicle adoption, McKinsey found. But “some low-cost options ”“ such as electric-vehicle-preferred lanes or conveniently located charging spots ”“ were surprisingly effective,” the report said.

It also noted that providing more information about electric vehicles would boost adoption by consumers, who were found to know relatively little about them.

The McKinsey consultants said early products should be tailored specifically to early adopters. These could be highly motivated private users or drivers of inner-city delivery vans with fixed routes. If a strong base of customers can be built in this manner, McKinsey said, the mass production and broad adoption of electric vehicles can be accelerated.