The Perfect Customer For An Electric Car


The perfect customer to buy an electric car: A teenager who hasn’t regularly driven anything else.

At least that’s the opinion of a dealer we spoke with at a Nissan (NSANY) event to show off the prototype of its electric car today in New York.

The dealer, who didn’t want to be quoted by name, says he thinks that the problem with electrics is that they’re don’t sound like a typical gas-powered car. He, and other dealers on hand at the event, say they’ve found that customers are freaked out by the quiet of hybrid cars. They want the rumble and vibration of a gas engine, because that’s what they’ve grown up with.

A teenager, or a young person, isn’t as attached to that sound. They don’t care if it’s quiet.

From a dealer’s perspective, he is conditioning a new generation of drivers to get accustomed to electric cars. Plugging in at night, the silence, all things that would be weird or new to an older driver, become normal. “We’re entering a new paradigm in transportation,” the dealer said, so we better get drivers used to it.

The other bonus with selling to teens is that they’re almost always going to be at home at night. As a result, they can just plug in the car overnight with a standard 110 volt outlet. They don’t need to worry about charging stations or running out of juice and will probably only be driving to school or around town, so the range questions aren’t as pressing.

The hurdle to selling electrics to teens is pretty simple–price. If the car comes in at $20-$28,000 then it’ll be too pricey for parents, the dealer says. If it comes in at $17-$23,000, then he thinks he can sell them.

At the event, we heard repeatedly from Mark Perry, the director of product planning for Nissan, that the car would cost the same as a family sedan. The car everyone tried to throw at him for comparison was the Nissan Altima which costs between $19,900 and $29,380. Perry just smiled and towed the line saying, “family sedan.”


Image: Flickr/Juliann L

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