Marketing students give electric cars a push start

Adelaide City Council Green Vehicle ProjectNovember 2010

Electric vehicles might one day be the driving force behind a greener Adelaide but few are aware of the technology, according to findings from a research collaboration between UniSA students and Adelaide City Council.

Final year Marketing students Taylor Boyley and Geoff Atkinson held focus groups and surveyed city users about electric vehicles as part of the Green Vehicle Project, which involves a number of UniSA Schools and Adelaide City Council.

Focusing on the marketing aspects of the project, Geoff said he was surprised that most people were uninformed about electric vehicles.

"It's amazing to find out just how low awareness and education among members of the public, especially considering how far the technology has come and that it will become available in 2012," he said.

Taylor agrees and said the infancy of Adelaide's electric vehicle market is the likely cause.

"There are organisations receiving test electric vehicles from major manufacturers already, which has had quite a bit of media attention in the past several months, so the lack of public knowledge was unexpected," Taylor said.

Apart from poor awareness, cost was identified as a major obstacle to potential use of electric vehicles.

"Cost is definitely going to be an issue once electric vehicles become available," Taylor said.

"Our respondents ranked cost as the biggest issue for them relative to electric vehicles.  Awareness will come with time but education will need to be addresses."

The pair worked from offices at Adelaide City Council and were required to present recommendations on how the Council can maximise its opportunities from electric vehicle use.

During the placement, which is part of the Marketing Practicum, they also helped the Council coordinate the 2010 Australian Electric Vehicle Association's national expo held this month.

Taylor and Geoff agreed that working with the Adelaide City Council was an invaluable experience.

"I could not have asked for a better experience, it gave me a chance to apply everything I had learned through the marketing degree in a real world situation and to gain an understanding of how government works behind the scenes." Geoff said.

"Being able to show the Council new ideas and act as a consultant was a great start to my professional life."

Next year, Geoff plans to do a Master's degree after a summer scholarship program with UniSA's Ehrenberg-Bass Institute while Taylor is currently scouting for employment opportunities but also considering undertaking an Honours degree.

The Marketing Practicum is just one of the School of Marketing's experiential learning opportunities available to undergraduate students.

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