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Discussion in 'News' started by benji4, Dec 20, 2011.
Are electric cars losing their spark?
Last I checked the LEAF was selling as fast as it's produced. The Volt, well, it's an expensive hybrid and people who want EV's really want EV's.
Agreed, but worrisome: if the only people buying the Volt are EV purists, then it has a really tiny market share. Doesn't bode well for Tesla sales, either.
Actually I'm suggesting that EV purists are not buying the Volt, they really want a true EV and are buying LEAF's or waiting for a Model S, or a Focus, iMiev, etc. GM had an opportunity to target hybrid drivers who really want longer electric only range plus the ability to travel long distance, a "super Prius" if you will, but instead tried to market the Volt as an EV, which confused many and I think backfired on them. So many people simply call the Volt a $40K EV with a 40 mile range. I really think the EV label for the Volt has hurt both the Volt sales and the EV movement in general. The low Volt sales numbers and the NHSTA investigation are always brought up as a knock against EV's in general.
Last I checked the Volt is also production constrained. I know I haven't been able to get a test drive at any local dealer because they never have them in stock. I have also heard that the customer satisfaction surveys that they have been doing with Volt owners have been off the charts.
Additionally, GM just decided to make another version of the Volt, so that doesn't really sound like a flop to me.
Well they have the platform and need to utilize it as much as they can. I'd say it is too early to say it's a flop, and I certainly hope it's not, but it's not had a great beginning and it has brought a lot of unneeded bad press to the EV movement.
I know that was the case but in October the local Chevy dealers finally had Volts on the lot. I have tracked two dealers and in 2 months 2 out of 5 cars have sold. So unfortunately they are not flying off the lots. Another data point is the local Nissan dealers also received some Leaf's and again they are not yet flying off the shelves. With gasoline in our area dropping to $3/gal is not helping the EV cause either.
Rather than electrifying auto buyers, the plug-in car revolution is feeling more like a fizzle. A year after the first two plug-in electric cars from major makers went on sale, buyers appear put off by high sticker prices — even with federal subsidies — and, for the moment, by more-stable gasoline prices.
I think the problem is two fold at this point: the first problem is educating the consumer. Consumers are aware that EVs are available for purchase but there is every little nation advertising, by the EV automakers, touting the up side of EVs. The other problem is the current cost of EVs. The average consumer would be willing to purchase a large SUV rather than a car that has a short range and a high cost. When the general public becomes more keen to the benefits of EVs and the battery tech improves the EV industry will see a jump in interest.
evtv.me's Jack Rickard has been talking about this for months. His view is that OEM vehicle manufacturers don't have it figured out, and battery/motor/accessory companies will be forced to make parts available to the conversion community in the near future. Electric cars are the future. Tesla will survive. Chevy and friends may falter temporarily. It's volatile, but what's really amazing is solar and battery technology. We are moving into the future, but we will be lurching forward, not smoothly flowing.
Let's just look at the numbers. Head over to cars.com and see how many Volts and LEAFs show up.
I got 688 LEAFs and 4538 Volts. Not sure how many of each are demo vehicles, but Nissan has been selling around 700 LEAFs / month in the US the last few months and GM selling about 1000 Volts / month.
For comparison, I checked the number of Prius and cars.com had about 15,000 - but Toyota sells 10-15,000 of them every month.
Draw your own conclusions about supply and demand...
I think Jack has it wrong though. The DIY market is tiny and if OEM's don't make components in large volumes prices will never come down. After all the huge aftermarket for ICE's doesn't exist without an even larger OEM fleet of vehicles. Jack tries to claim that most OEM buyers are the DIY crowd, yet few of the people on the LEAF and Tesla forums are DIY EV builders and few of the people on the DIY forums have bought a factory EV. The plain reality is people are talking about nation wide EV sales as if there are EVs available nationwide, there are not. In the US there has been one mass market EV available this year, the LEAF, and only in a handful of markets. Drawing conclusions from those sales is misguided to say the least.
I think this TMC thread with my recent post, Top 10 Worst-Selling Vehicles of 2011 helps to dispel that EVs are loosing juice when you start doing COMPARISONS!