The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market has grown dramatically in the past three years, but the central question concerning PEV acceptance in the marketplace still remains: When compared to a hybrid or conventional vehicle, is a PEV worth the additional up-front cost to consumers? Given the incomplete understanding of changes in driving patterns due to vehicle purchases, the baseline analysis described in this report does not model customer adaptation, nor does it attempt to address non-tangible PEV ownership benefits. However, this analysis does use data that is new to EPRI transportation modeling in order to estimate the range of values for customers with different driving patterns. The baseline analysis relies on a cost-of-ownership model that examines only current vehicles, current fuel prices, and a relatively conservative set of customer values. In particular, two PEVs, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF, are analyzed in comparison with a limited set of current conventional and hybrid vehicles. Following are key results of the analysis:
• With current incentives and prices, financial factors should not be a deterrent to a PEV purchase for most buyers.
• The LEAF is less expensive than competing options on average, but has a wide variation in value for different drivers, suggesting that battery electric vehicles will require more careful consideration when making a purchase decision.
• The sensitivities suggest that increases and decreases in gasoline prices will have a significant impact on the relative costs of PEVs, but that state incentives or rebates and equivalent vehicle price changes will have an even larger impact on cost tradeoffs.