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Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by Doug_G, Jul 4, 2015.
Why donâ€™t we drive more electric vehicles? | Ars Technica
This appears to be the GM take on it.
Seems to be a pretty reasonable article... I thought these paragraphs were interesting:
It's my opinion that some of the backlash against EV's has to do with the somewhat "in your face" attitude of many conservationalists... or as the article put it: "people bought Priuses over hybrid versions of conventional cars because the car's distinctive design signals their commitment to the environment to the world around them", AKA "Conspicuous Conservation"...
I didn't buy a Prius 11 years ago for that reason: I bought it to use less gas. I didn't buy the Lexus HS250h (hybrid) after that for that reason, either, I bought it because it looked nice, I wanted a Lexus, and I wanted to use less gas (not necessarily in that order). I bought a Tesla because it was the next step, all EV, a super car, and I really like that it looks very cool.
I may not be the typical Prius buyer...
I think the reader comments demonstrate just how far left is to go for public education, too.
Cost is being brought up as the #1 reason for many people. After gas savings and maintenance costs my Leaf lease is something like $60-80 above that of my former lease, a gas smart car. A car with 42 mpg real-world that leased for $100 pre-tax on a base model.
Sure, range, charging speed, and (for about half the population) ability to charge easily are issues but most consumers can still realistically save a ton of money with few/no compromises (two car households), with a Leaf or even more economical models under that. But that's not the main reasons people are objecting to it--they think up-front cost is too much (completely false especially on leases), or worse yet they vastly underestimate the total cost of ownership.
People don't comprehend the fact that a mid-trim F150 costs the same as a Tesla on a 5-6 year loan due to TCO, and that's a huge problem in of itself.
I also do like how my Leaf looks, and that it's unique. Every BEV is going to be like that in some fashion though due to a lack of tailpipes and lower drag coefficients.
When I was looking for a LEAF two years ago, I found one in a neighboring state. It had the giant "Zero Emissions" graphic on the side doors. I told the dealer "I want a price quote out the door including removing the pretentious graphics on the side of the car. I'm not going to pay anything for something that screams, Look at how awesome I am!" Oddly, they didn't even bother responding to my inquiry.
For me it's three reasons: Lack of range, cost, and attributes (or lack thereof). That's why I'm really excited and interested in the Model 3. It will be within the realm of affordability, will have a practical, usable, worry-free range, and (hopefully) will be good-looking and practical (interior/cargo space).
How people shop for cars and what goes on in their heads is probably one of the most researched fields in marketing. No one spends as much on just the design as the car industry. (I worked for BMW's design department a few years back.) The emotional factor is very important in the decision and lots of things, including design, play into it. The majority of cars on the road are not the most practical or economical decision. Often it comes down how much the buyer 'fell in love' with a model, how desirable it is. As another article pointed out, the Model S is the first EV that is actually a desirable car regardless of it being an EV.
Price and economics of course play a big part. The majority of people just can't spend 80k on a car.
I think the main factors why EVs haven't taken off more is because people wrongly believe they need to find charging stations and think there are not enough. It's the old ICE car thinking you need to go to a station to fill up. And the limited range. 80 miles is perfectly fine for almost all driving, but it still feels too little in people's minds.
People were OK paying more for a hybrid knowing they would safe in the long run. They don't need performance. They need to feel good about their car.
I think "conspicuous environmentalism" aspect was overplayed. The Prius was the most efficient car with rear seats. It developed a track record of reliability. The hatchback shape is practical. The distinctive look of the 2nd Gen meant that they were highly visible and that creared awareness. In CA they got HOV access. Alll of that combined to make it the best selling hybrid by far. But the flipside is hybrid=Prius therefore hybrid=sacrifice therefore limited demand.
What GM has done with Gen 2 Volt is to follow Tesla's example and have a car with an inoffensive, sleeker look. The best selling cars are dull. Good looks help, but ugly in the eye of the beholder I'd expect to be a sales killer. I also think that people who like boxy looks would favor CUVs and SUVs, so it's better for cars to be sleeker.
Electric vehicles are expensive, have limitations and are unfamiliar. Just deal with those issues and people will buy more.
I'd say you're a pretty typical Prius buyer. many bought it to save gas and to get the HOV sticker.
I suspect you are... I italicized "some" because I suspect it's a fraction of folks that have given the BEV ownership population a bit of a negative connotation to some folks....
Dusted off this old bumper sticker I found on a shelf at work today, yes I'm at work.
In this context, to me, it speaks to the ossification in a really big, really old company, while Tesla is able (& more importantly willing) to say "this is what we're doing, this is how it's going to be... Onward"!!
IOW GM is in the unenviable position, articulated repeatedly by Elon, of trying to produce something new and better without completely blowing up their entire business model. How many times has Apple released a product that basically replaced their current bread&butter product? Congrats to GM for their efforts so far, but they should brace for impact!!
They try hard, but I remain skeptical of just how insightful a lot of that market research really is. In an ideal world we could ask people what they want and then build it. However, when you ask people what they want, the vast majority of them will say they want what they're already familiar with, only more-and-better please! You'll never get innovation or reinvention that way. It takes somebody with a vision to look ahead and imagine how things could be different.
That's an example of exactly what I mean. That's why Toyota are betting so heavily on hydrogen fuel cells. Those cars have a lot of disadvantages, but they have one overwhelming advantage: familiarity. They operate on the same basic fueling model that people have grown up with. Toyota is a notoriously conservative company based in a country with a conservative society. It's not surprising that they'd go to great lengths to keep things from fundamentally changing, and they assume that's the path to victory.
I can get about 220 "ideal miles" out of my Roadster, and I consider it just about adequate. However, I do live way out in the country. A city car it ain't.
AS for why EVs haven't taken off more. . . From where I sit, it looks like they are taking off just fine. Nothing in the car business happens overnight. This is about as fast as change ever gets, and it's actually quite remarkable when you look back just a few years. It hasn't been that long since you couldn't buy a BEV or PHEV at all.
Market research is why every year the same model of car gets bigger, clunkier, and hungrier. Eventually, they have to create a new line to get back to where the car (that was very popular) started off.
Henry Ford's "a Faster Horse". See how that turned out!
It the infamous words of Bugs Bunny.... "Bulls ear Catnip".
Folks are not going to buy a car that they have to "fill up" every day or worse, every destination (Leaf - 40 mile best).
Nor are people going to pay a premium for a car unless they get something in return. Hybrid owners buy for at least one of these reasons. (1) they can get pay back on that extra the spend (2) they want to contribute to "save the environment".
Lastly until there are enough charging stations to allow folks to fill up when and where they want/need... a pure electric car will be the outlier. Add to that, folks are not going to buy in until that charge takes a reasonable amount of time. Most of the American consumers are not going to accept a 20 minute stop every 200 miles or throttling down to 60 MPH, making the 300 mile/4.5 hour trip a 5.5 hour trip.
My Ford Fusion Hybrid saves me almost 5 cents a mile compared to the Fusion ICE and has long since paid for the premium I paid to buy the Hybrid version. If I can get 400,000 miles out of the car, it will come close to paying for itself. The 20 solar panels I have on the roof have a 4 year pay back. 35% to 55% of my electricity are furnished by these.
Its all about the Benjamins to me
There are a lot of people who will pay a premium for saving money (hence the Prius being super popular). While most people aren't that bright and will stick to inferior technology as long as possible, they're going to look mighty silly when people can travel pennies per mile in exchange for taking a healthy 20m break every 200 miles.
I think the biggest reason that BEVs will be popular is that they simply are superior driving experiences, and over the course of a year you spend less time refueling (20m on your long trips does not make up for all the detours and time spent at a pump, especially since you can't leave a pump unattended). Entry-level BEVs like a Leaf or smart ED can leave most other cars in the dust on red lights and are an incredible delight to drive; entry-level Teslas put most sport cars to shame at legal speeds and situations. Just think of the Model X--although it's a very pricey car, it's going to be the only SUV available to a consumer that can reach sports car like acceleration. People will take notice. Think about a truck that has a heavy flat-bed battery underneath as well--not only will it double the acceleration at a minimum of other trucks, but it will perform like no other. All the while they're spending 2-4x as much for a crappy and inferior driving experience. People will definitely take notice of this.
Regarding efficiency and taking breaks, this isn't even remotely close to the whole truck (20 mpg) v. efficient car (35-50mpg+) argument. Large stretches of the country, like my own home here in Ohio, have extremely low electricity costs v. gas costs to the point that it's a 4-5x difference between electricity and gas. I'm paying under 1.5 cents per mile to drive my Leaf when I'm off the highway or sticking to 60 mph. "Downgrading" your driving experience for 50-90% savings on fuel is a pretty big deal, whereas many people wouldn't do it simply for 25-50% off by going from guzzler to hybrid.
I still believe there will be a market for low-range but very low cost BEVs. Services like car2go are extremely popular, not to mention all the people who spend a lot of time on public transit. A low-cost, low-range BEV in several years should very easily undercut gas cars for upfront costs and still maintain the half to a fourth of the ongoing ownership costs bringing it more in-line with public transit costs. I know that when I have a model 3, I'll still want a super-cheap car like a smart ED to drive around for city trips.
Market research doesn't work because most consumers seemingly don't have a lot of imagination. You ask them, "If we build this will you buy it?" They will say "yes" and then when the product comes out, crickets. They will say "no" and when the product comes out it flies off the shelves. It's hard for them to picture themselves making the buy/no buy decision for something they haven't actually seen/tried. Market research is, at best, useful for incremental changes.
I've posted this story before: A fellow I know founded a small software company making optical design software. He started in the DOS era. He got the idea that maybe they should bring out a Windows version, and decided to survey his customers. He got a very high percentage response rate, and almost everyone said "no, it's working great the way it is". He looked at the data, and thought... "naw, we're doing it anyway." His sales TRIPLED when the Windows version came out.
All valid points -- for us early adopters. For the general public, I don't agree. If the general public "did the math" regarding cost per mile, anyone with a mid/small sedan would have bought a Volt.
When charging takes 10 minutes or less and distance per charge increases and charge locations are every 50 miles or less and price is less than $40K.... than BEVs will be more palatable to the general public.
The fundamental fact of EV charging that is usually ignored by EV skeptics is that for the owners who can charge at home, the time they spend charging for well over 90% of their miles traveled is ZERO. It take only a few seconds to plug in your EV at home. Essentially ZERO time spent charging.
So it does not matter if the average time the vehicle takes to charge up from a low state to a nearly full state is 10 minutes (which isn't possible...yet) to 20 minutes (at a Tesla Supercharger) or even 6 to 10 hours (e.g. home charging at 40A).
Of course not everyone will be able to charge "at home" because those who live in multi-unit buildings may not be able to install L2 chargers. But a significant percentage of car owners in the US are able to install L2.
Tesla is beginning to address the needs of those who can't L2 charge at their residence with Superchargers in urban areas.
In my opinion it is certainly not necessary to have EV chargers "every 50 miles" (as @mzpolo states), and car buyers will not require that for EVs that have a 200 mile real world range, which is what Elon has committed to for the Model 3.
The Model 3 will address the obstacles of cost and range by providing 200 miles for $35K, plus access to the Expanding Supercharger network.
The Model 3, and the GM Bolt if comes to market, will capture the attention of many car buyers because they will have the range and the price to make people realize that an EV is a viable transportation choice. The Model 3 will be the clear winner because it will be able to use the Tesla Supercharger network, but just the fact that GM is offering a long range BEV will help promote EV in general. And by then it seems likely that the Nissan Leaf will have been upgraded to a 140 mile or greater range.
No, people would not necessarily have bought a Volt, because the Volt wouldn't necessarily save you money. Cost of money, miles driven, driving environment, climate, regular gas to electricity + premium gas differential, taxes. Zero chance our Volt would be a financial deal.
Make them cheaper and they'll sell. Some people buy, they tell their friends, and then all the unfamiliarity becomes less scary and other people buy.