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Charging stations and battery-swap locations are the most crucial to developing a sustainable electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, according to respondents to a recent survey by PwC.

The survey, which polled more than 200 participants from 34 countries representing the automotive, utilities, energy, technology, government, finance and education sectors, was conducted to help gauge some of the major determining factors for the success of EVs.

According to PwC, the global hybrid and EV market share will reach 6.3% by 2020. As municipalities continue to work with the private sector to meet future demands and develop "smart cities," finding the ideal ratio between integrated public charging stations and the number of EVs on the road is a prevailing challenge when investing in existing and future infrastructure.

"Continued investment to improve upon the electric vehicle value chain, along with the pace of advancement in competing alternative fuel solutions, will ultimately determine the level of success EVs are able to achieve," says Brandon Mason, a senior analyst at PwC. "While we don't expect one to be parked in every driveway anytime soon, there is no doubt that EVs are here to stay."

Approximately 25% of survey respondents said one public station for every 20 EVs is an ideal ratio, while 20% indicated one station for every five vehicles is ideal, according to the report. Roughly 80% of respondents also indicated that 30 minutes or less charge time is considered fast charging for EVs.

Focusing on price, the report found that nearly 46% of respondents felt that long-term total cost of ownership savings is the most likely reason consumers would be willing to pay an up-front premium for an EV. PwC says automakers continue to evaluate the price premium consumers are willing to pay for an EV. Survey respondents indicated that consumers willing to pay a premium price would need to remain under $5,000 (PHEVs 57.9%, PEVs 47.7%).

"Automakers accelerate their efforts to find solutions to reduce costs for battery, alternative drive train and the vehicle overall," says Oliver Hazimeh, automotive cleantech transportation leader at PwC. "Passing high initial development costs on to the consumer is not a long-term option, as it is not viable to rely on long-term government incentives. Auto companies need to deploy smart vehicle and technology platforms and global partnerships to achieve economies of scale."

Survey respondents indicated global collaboration (26.6%) will lead the development and production of EVs and supporting technologies by 2020. Respondents said China will lead by 2020 (25.9%).

According to the report, automakers are working to find a balance between production and consumer demands. The trend is to build where you sell. Automakers planning for long-term success will likely have the competitive edge.


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