What would you need to make the switch to an electric vehicle?

Well, if this new study is anything to go by, the availability of renewable power stations might be the deciding factor on whether you'd make the switch or not.

The study, produced by a team at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia, investigated which reasons helped sway consumers to purchase an electric vehicle.

Traditionally it was thought that other factors might be more important when it came to buying.

"High purchase costs and short driving ranges have been considered to be the main factors which impede people's decision to buy electric vehicles," said Kenan Degirmenci, the lead researcher.

But a green electric car isn't always as green as we'd like it to be – whether it's the emissions used to create the car or the coal-produced electricity we're adding into it – the 'green' measures can get a little murky.

"For example, a petrol-driven vehicle produces 119g CO2-e/km, of which most are on-road emissions. In comparison, an electric vehicle produces zero on-road emissions," Degirmenci said.

"However, if electricity is generated from coal to charge an electric vehicle it produces 139g CO2-e/km well-to-wheel emissions, compared with only 9g CO2-e/km well-to-wheel emissions with electricity from renewable energy sources." 

But it seems consumers have wisened up to this and the availability of renewable energy was one of the driving factors. 

"We found the majority of participants placed great emphasis on the need for electricity for electric vehicles to be produced from renewable energy sources in order for them to be a true alternative," he said.

"In this regard, a transition from conventional combustion vehicles to electric vehicles has the potential to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions substantially, if that electricity is produced from renewable energy sources."

With more and more countries turning to renewables to fulfil their power needs, this might soon be a much easier switch.

The research has been published in Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

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