Plug-in vehicles will be cleanest and most efficient of all e-vehicles, says KPMG survey

Plug-in hybrids will lead the pack among e-vehicles in the race to produce cleaner, more efficient vehicles, according to KPMG International’s 2014 Global Automotive Executive Survey.

The hybrids are expected to attract the greatest demand of any e-vehicle, for both the TRIAD and the BRIC markets. Fuel-cell vehicles are also experiencing a rise in popularity, with 69 per cent of respondents considering this technology as critical to future growth.

Despite this confidence, the majority of investment from automakers will continue to be in downsizing the ICE, which could slow advances in e-vehicles, according to the survey. Seventy-six per cent of respondents said that ICE downsizing and optimisation is a key issue, compared with just 59 per cent for battery-powered technologies.

TRIAD OEMs are twice as likely to invest in ICE downsizing, whereas BRIC countries are more focused on the various forms of e-mobility, such as plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrified vehicles.

Mathieu Meyer, global head of automotive and a partner with KPMG in Germany, said: ‘Continuing consumer concern with fuel efficiency and pollution is urging automakers to focus on plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell technologies for the near future. Since the development of e-vehicle technology takes time, in parallel, automakers are also maintaining a strong grasp on downsizing the internal combustion engine to meet the needs of the current marketplace.’

According to the survey, the top priority for today’s car buyers is a longer-lasting vehicle with low gasoline consumption — 92 per cent of global executives surveyed said that this is a top priority for buyers. The latest safety innovations also remain a critical factor for consumers when choosing a vehicle, according to 79 per cent.

Consumer preferences for alternative fuel technologies have taken a lower priority in the quest to economise. Fewer than half of respondents said they feel that this factor is critical to buyers. However, having a vehicle with the latest in-car technologies is another important consideration to consumers.