Electric car for $17,540 seen as acceptable

Most Japanese would be willing to buy electric cars if they were priced around 1.5 million yen (C$17,540), a Reuters survey shows.

Electric cars are currently available only as a high-priced niche product on the market, but several major automakers are preparing to offer them over the next few years to take advantage of an increasingly ecologically minded consumer base.

Of the 882 respondents in the Reuters survey, 40 per cent said they would buy a pure, zero-emission electric car priced around 1.5 million to two million yen.

Another quarter were willing to pay up to 1.5 million yen (C$17,540).

A further 19 per cent said they would be prepared to spend two million to 2.5 million yen.

About 10 per cent said they were not interested at any price.

"It takes time to charge the batteries," said a respondent in his 30s. "I don't think there is sufficient infrastructure to charge electric cars."

The poll was conducted from May 7 to 10 as part of a survey of retail investor sentiment on the stock market.

Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which will likely be the first to market with a small electric car for corporate customers this year, is aiming to begin selling them to individuals from next year for no more than three million yen after state-backed incentives.

That is still a great deal more than the gasoline-engine version of the same car, due to the steep price of the lithium-ion batteries that power the vehicle.

The alliance of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault is aiming to start selling electric vehicles next year, pricing them in the same range as a similarly sized conventional car, but without the battery, which will likely be leased.

Automakers are working with utility and other companies to set up fast-charge stations for electric cars.

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