‘Generation Next’ looks at next generation autos

du-ev-students-brooke2Electric vehicles are going to show up at American dealerships within the next few months and many are wondering who their potential buyers will be. Are college students among those who will be buying into such new technology, and how much do young adults truly know about electric vehicles?

These are the types of questions EV makers and marketing teams are surely asking themselves when thinking about the future of EV sales.

‘They all look really fun to drive.’
‘They are relatively new.’ ‘A general lack of knowledge.’

College students are exactly the type of demographic most likely to consider an electric car, meaning educated, comparatively affluent, and more likely than the average American to be concerned about the environment.

SolarChargedDriving.Com decided to go out and see how high the knowledge – and enthusiasm – level about plug-in vehicles is among some of America’s up-and-coming elite.

U. of Denver students quiered about EVs
Three students from the University of Denver (DU) were shown pictures of the Tesla Roadster, Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt and were asked about their general knowledge of electric vehicles.

“I don’t really know anything about electric vehicles other than the obvious, that they run on electricity and not gas,” said DU junior Laurel Mize.

A resident assistant at DU, Mize explained that although she thinks EVs are great for the environment, she is worried about making such a drastic change to a non-gas vehicle.

“I think that they would be hard to use because I wouldn’t know where I would be when I would run out of electricity. And if I was in the middle of nowhere then there is no way to recharge, “ said Mize.

Colleen Feeney, a sophomore at DU, was also interested in plug-in cars. But, like Mize, said she knows little about them.

“I think they are cool, it makes a lot of sense, but I don’t really know where you would buy them,” Feeney said.

Lack of EV knowledge
Feeney, a Phoenix native says that no one she knows drives an EV in Arizona.

“If you can get people into it then it’s good, but right now it doesn’t seem like a lot of people are really moving in that direction, maybe its because of a general lack of knowledge,” said the DU business major.

tesla-show-on-streetA general lack of knowledge is precisely what we found college students to have regarding EVs. Although most students interviewed think electric vehicles are going to take off in the future, they’re not sure how popular the vehicles might be in the next couple of years.

Erin Mullen, a DU sophomore, is one of these.

“Honestly, the only electric vehicle I know anything about is the Prius,” said Mullen. “I think if they are good for the environment then that’s a good thing… it will help us in the future if more people drove electric vehicles.”

The marketing major explained that she would be tentative about purchasing an EV right now because of how expensive they are. However, she said if the movement towards driving electric really takes off, she would be interested in becoming a part of it.

“Because it’s relatively new, not many people have looked into it, but since there’s more of a green movement now, maybe people will start looking into it,” she said.

Where is the advertising?
Since EVs are soon to be on the market and there appears to be a general lack of knowledge among Americans about the vehicles, why aren’t they being advertised more?

volt-to-right“It doesn’t seem like they’re advertised a lot, “ said Feeney. “It seems like it’s a cycle where people aren’t buying electric cars, so nobody wants to advertise the electric cars because those aren’t the cars that are going to make the most money. “

It appears electric vehicles won’t be the most popular cars on the lot when they are first introduced. Yet if the public doesn’t know about them this perspective also seems unlikely to change.

Unless, for instance, the EV look – and general appeal – grows on people, especially on younger consumers such as college students.

<div style="float:left; margin-right: 10px;">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-7703542917199961";
/* 200x200,
created 12/8/09 */
google_ad_slot = "7950368454";
= 200;
google_ad_height = 200;

After being shown pictures of the Tesla Roadster, Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, Mize noted, “I think that they are all pretty sporty looking — which was surprising to me. They all looked really fun to drive.”

When asked if she would purchase an EV in the future, Mullen said, “Some of the cars were ugly. The Chevy Volt wasn’t that bad. But if I looked into them and I liked the way they drove, then I think I would buy one.”

If Feeney’s reaction to pictures of EVs is any indication of how most college students might respond to EVs, especially the sportier-looking ones, then the future of EVs looks promising indeed.

“I was surprised the [Tesla Roadster] was electric, it was really cool,“ she said.

Related articles–>

prius-resources-page-image Like this story? Interested in the solar EV/PHEV synergy? Join our Sun Miles™ Club and start meeting & interacting with other people around the world who want to drive, or already are driving, their cars on sun! Register to join us today!