Daimler finds the sweet spot for electric cars

Smart fortwo EV coupe

Daimler AG thinks it knows what it takes to sell electric cars to the masses.

The parent company of Mercedes-Benz DAI, +0.89%  unveiled this week the results of a two-year study looking at what makes electric-car drivers tick. According to one of its main findings, an electric car becomes financially more attractive for people driving 30 miles or more a day owing to its low operating and maintenance costs.

The drivers in the study drove 146 electric smart fortwo, Daimler’s subcompact electric car that in the U.S. starts at around $13,000. They drove the cars, in total, more than one million kilometers (600,000 miles) on German roads between May 2013 and June 2015.

As might be expected, the typical electric car supporter is, according to Daimler, an educated, tech-savvy person with above-average earnings. Among those who reject electric cars, the less they knew about electric cars, the more likely they were to have a negative opinion of them.

Price was a key criterion for or against an electric car, even as some of those interviewed were unaware of savings to be had by steering clear of conventional, gasoline-fueled cars. Drivers also attached great importance to driving range, performance, space and charging time, Daimler said.

Also perhaps not surprising, the study found that deciding in favor of an electric car hinged on image, whereas “personal environmental awareness was of minor importance,” Daimler said.

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