Who Killed The Electric Car? So Far, It Looks Like The Consumer

 

EV market researchMarketing and selling electric cars seems to be a rather frustrating exercise. According to a recent survey conducted by infas, a social research and market institute in Bonn (Germany), drivers’ expectations and their actual behavior are wildly different. This leads them to avoid electric cars because of perceived shortcomings which actually have no effect on most drivers’ daily habits.

The study, titled the “Continental Mobility Study 2011” was published last month. It involved young drivers (aged 35 or less) in four countries (Germany, France, China, and the United States) and ten cities (Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Beijing, Bangkok, Delhi, and Singapore).

Did You Say Frustrating?

One of the most mind-boggling results from the survey was that while 90% of respondents in all countries drove less than 60 miles a day, a high number (75% in Germany and 50% in the U.S.) would be “very unhappy” if they had to refill/recharge their vehicles every 90 miles (I know people like that). Most of these respondents also had designated parking places, and about half in total had electrical outlets available at said parking spaces. Furthermore, quite a few respondents left their cars parked for several hours at a time at home (prime charging time!).

To be a little more specific, 35% of American respondents reported that their car spent at least 2.5 hours at a time parked at home during the day. 10% said they left their cars parked at least 6.5 hours without moving it during the work day. And 40% of respondents said they hadn’t used their cars at all on the day they answered the survey.

And yet, they still don’t want to have to refuel every 90 miles, even when the car is parked at home anyway, where a plug is probably available.

Consumers Claim High Interest

The respondents themselves said they were interested in the technology; to quote Continental Executive Board Chairman Dr. Elmar Degenhart as reported by oekonews:

“The part of the market researched showed pretty significant interest in buying an electric car. The consumers are just waiting for an affordable every-day middle-class vehicle with mature technology that is also comfortable. However, they will start actually buying it first when the price is significantly reduced.”

Don’t want much, do you.

So Who’s Actually Going To Buy An Electric Car?

The study took the potential demand and applied a suitable use pattern (70% of trips being short drives, no more than 90 miles per day, and no more than 4 trips of longer than 60 miles per month), concrete buyer intention, and the expectation of a high sticker price for an EV. The results aren’t exactly heartening – China has the highest number of potential buyers at 14%, followed by Germany, the U.S., and finally France with 1%. Ouch.

Most drivers across the board named price as the most important factor in their decision to buy (or not to buy) an electric car, followed by the availability of public charging stations (again, despite parking at home near an electrical outlet!), tax breaks, and other subsidies. In other words, make it cheaper than a gasoline-powered car, and they’ll buy it.

Jose A. Avila, Continental Executive Board Member, spoke about the necessity of standardizing components across the industry, and informing consumers about the actual advantages and disadvantages of electric cars; misconceptions abound. According to oekonews, he said:

“We have to have the information cleared up. The study shows overwhelmingly that drivers who drive less than 20 miles a day are deeply afraid that they won’t have enough range in an electric car. And that is a completely unfounded fear.”

The Numbers

Other factors evaluated by the survey included how nice the car was (or looked) and how much the environment matters to the driver. For those of you interested in some of the numerical results from the survey, look no farther than below:

Across the Board

  • 80% of all respondents wanted to own their own car, regardless of where they lived.
  • 90% of all respondents do not drive more than 60 miles per day.

By Country

United States
  • 62% claim to try to use fewer resources when driving.
  • 41% named price as the most important issue when considering an electric car.
  • 27% want the neighbors to envy their car.
  • 2% will likely purchase an electric car.
  • 40% think EVs will become normal by 2021 (and yet they’re not buying them).
Germany
  • 74% claim to try to use fewer resources when driving.
  • 43% named price as the most important issue when considering an electric car.
  • 14% want the neighbors to envy their car (a likely story).
  • 4% will likely purchase an electric car.
  • 50% think EVs will become normal by 2021 (yet again, they’re not buying them).
China
  • 70% claim to try to use fewer resources when driving.
  • 49% named price as the most important issue when considering an electric car.
  • 59% want the neighbors to envy their car.
  • 14% will likely purchase an electric car.
  • 60% think EVs will become normal by 2021.
France
  • 68% claim to try to use fewer resources when driving.
  • 49% named price as the most important issue when considering an electric car.
  • 36% want the neighbors to envy their car.
  • 1% will likely purchase an electric car.
  • 12% think EVs will become normal by 2021 (still not buying them, though).

All the data can be found in the survey report here (in PDF format).

Source: infas, via oekonews.at | Image: Wikimedia Commons.





About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

  • Jeo

    The fundamental issue with EV’s is not range, but recharge time. This is why the Volt’s technology makes the most sense in order to transition until battery technology has been improved and recharge time is 5 minutes not 10 hours. The other possible solution, but is very expensive as it is a complete infrastructure upgrade is to simply swap out a fully recharged battery at a refueling station, just like we do today with gas stations (we replace the fuel). This will require standardizing the design and engineering a quick battery swap method (which is very doable).

    • This is actually a recharging method I quite like, and I seem to recall that someone somewhere set up a test run. But yeah, that would require an infrastructure upgrade and we’re not quite there.

  • Ov3rTheHill

    Living in suburbia, there (theoretically) three distinctly different locations where I might park my car “at home”

    * In the garage: Nope, it’s full of stuff (bikes, work stuff, hobby stuff, holiday stuff, home maintenance stuff — no room for a car in my garage!!)

    * On the driveway: With sprinklers adjacent, having something of a security (personal, and against electricity theft) and safety (there are sprinklers, there is occasional rain, there are animals outside). Not a problem for an auto that gets recharged / battery-swapped “Not In My Front Yard”. Conceivably, extensions for the charging equipment in inconspicuous ground-level boxes could be made available outdoors, but sufficient engineering talent would need tobe devoted to the security, liability and safety issues of a driveway-based charging at-grade. Poles will get hit when backing into the driveway.

    * On the pubic street. Here things are more exposed; the driveway is my property but the street, and the margin between sidewalk and street, isn’t. Yet I often park my car on the public street outside my home. The curbside is a venue for mail delivery, trash and recycling bins, and neighbors parking. It’s on the other side of the sidewalk from my property. I might need two buried-box outlets to deal with having to park here or there, and were I to need to leave the cord connected overnight, outdoor, what’s to secure it?

    It’s not spoken, perhaps because many won’t admit to having a garage with no room for a car. The “last 50 feet from car to power” may be an adoption impediment in suburbia.

    These do not seem insurmountable challenges. But here they are.

    • T Adkins

      So… too much clutter in your garage and you cant back up in your car and you live where you cant trust your own car in your drive way. Sounds rough and you claim it is fixable but it wont get fixed. /shrug
      Seems like you made up your mind about no EV along with a lot of excuses. My only excuse is the price point currently but I do hope that some of these EV motorcycles/scooter and the T.27 will change that.

      -T

    • Paul Scott

      I don’t understand those people who would rather store a bunch of crap in their garage instead of their car. Either their crap is really valuable, or their car is a piece a junk. Just so you know, you can install the charge station outdoors. They are made to be indoor/outdoor, there are zero safety issue with water, trust me on that, or do your own research. Theft of electricity is unlikely since the person’s car would be quite visible parked in your driveway.

  • martin dell

    I *really* want an electric car.
    I get that the electricity I use to charge it might not be so green, but I can live with de-coupling the power generation from the power consumption, for now.
    I don’t care about range.
    I don’t care about charging.
    Most of my needs can be met with an EV with 20 mile range and 12 hour recharge time.
    For the other 1% of unusual travel requirements, I’d be happy to rent a ‘conventional’ car.
    Problem is the price. EV’s are too expensive and government subsidies don’t even begin to take the edge of that.
    I drive an 8 year old Toyota Yaris, 1.4D. It works, it’s cheap to run, tax, insure and maintain. I’d like to be greener. I’d like to be 100% electric, but I can’t afford to do the ‘right’ thing.
    If EV’s are expensive to produce (I would guess that they are), and governments actually care about the environmental impact of burning hydrocarbons, then they’ll need to dig a little deeper and subsidise EV’s more heavily. Until then, I’ll string the Yaris out for as long as I can.

    • I’m actually with you right there – I can’t afford ANY new car, much less an electric one. I do love electric cars – I think they’re super neat, and it’s easier to clean up energy generation than it is to clean up fossil fuels (which are never going to be really clean…). But yeah, they’re not cheap. For sure. 🙁 That is literally the only reason I do not have one.

  • How many people were surveyed….10, 20, 4? How many?

    • 1000 interview per country via telephone, 500 per city via an online survey. It’s on page 3 of the PDF. 🙂 There were also some “expert interviews,” but the number of those is not tallied.

      • george

        thanks

  • Jeff

    I’m a consumer who really WANTS to buy a BEV, and on most days I drive under 20 miles. Here are my problems:
    1) Cars that advertise “up to 100 miles” range appear to have as little as 50 in worst case (highway miles with climate control on and non-ideal ambient temperature)
    2) Even though MOST days are under 20 miles, some “normal” days would exceed 50-60
    3) Fear of somewhat unproven technology. I’m not wealthy, but I might be able to convince myself to pay the premium for a BEV; however, I can’t afford to find out later that the technology wasn’t ready for prime time (for example, significant range degradation in future years).
    I think I would be most interested in a modern-day EV-1 (EV-2?) — lightweight, small, two-seater that prioritizes range over space.

    • Hey, I want one, too, and my daily commute (not including any errands that need to be run) is 30 miles in the morning and 30 miles in the evening – both of which are still within the ranges claimed by most EV manufacturers. 🙂 Going point by point –

      1 – There will always be a worst-case for anything (hey, my car, which has a bog-standard combustion engine, gets crap mileage every bloody time I go into the city, because I sit there in traffic and it’s horrible). But I think the worry isn’t so much “what’s the worst-case scenario for range” and more “what do I need, and is the worst-case range enough for that?” Which brings us to…

      2 – Yeah, some normal days you drive more. (Like going into the city, for me, which, let me stress again, is awful.) The question here is what kind of driving are you doing on those days? Is it all highway? Is it all at one stretch or are you parked somewhere during the day and if you are – could the car be recharged at that point? (It is possible that you’ve already considered these questions, I know.)

      3 – Yeah, I get this too. As I said to another commenter – I’m not wealthy either. Can’t afford any new car at the moment, much less an electric one. So I totally understand worrying about unproven technology. I believe, however, that any problems specific to an EV would likely be with the battery and not with the rest of the car – there are fewer moving parts in an electric motor, which means less chance for something to go horribly wrong – and just the battery is more replaceable than the entire car. It’s still not cheap, I know.

      All that having been said, I have seen a LOT of the little tiny two-seater EVs being pitched and designed and it looks like a growing field. Most of them are currently pretty short-range, but I think there’s some potential there (as battery technology improves, the range should improve, and so on). Which is a sort of long-winded way of saying, I totally get all of this, hang in there, I think the manufacturers are headed in the right direction.

      • Jeff

        “Worst-case” was perhaps not the best phrase. It seems that the reliable range of Leaf/Focus is right on the edge of what is practical in the typical American urban/suburbanopolis. If a BEV would go 100 miles at 60 mph with the heater or A/C running, I think that would open up the practicality tremendously. This means the EPA range rating would probably need to be around 125. I live in the nearburbs close to work, but I routinely travel outside my neighborhood within the Atlantopolis (and this often includes a “highway” segment). Given the real-world range experiences I’ve read about the Leaf, I think many of these trips would make me range-anxious. I also agree with those who point out that range is much less important if you have widely available 5-10 minute charging capability. Another idea is for interstate highways to have inductive charging lanes! (btw, another reason I’m waiting — I think in a few years we will have moved to inductive plugless charging).

  • This isn’t surprising at all for a replacement technology that is more still more expensive and, in the public’s mind, untested. For most people the price point on a car is critical and people tend to look at purchase price rather than long term costs. There are still a lot of questions in many people’s minds and most people are reasonably comfortable with relatively low mpg cars – despite higher gas prices the EPA average for the fleet sold in the US was still in the 22 mpg range last year.

    There will need to be some major improvements in range, price and/or really dramatic permanent increases in the cost of gasoline (say beyond current European levels) to make a shift anytime soon – even though I’m an enthusiast. For an example consider the use of bikes on short (under 5 km) trips. There is enormous potential here, but under 1% of the country does it – even if the “greens” are 5% of the population, only a small fraction take the low impact approach – an approach that is very inexpensive and can be used much of the time.

    • I know, and it makes me rather sad that people look at sticker price first instead of thinking long-term. You have, by the way, summed up the entire survey really well with the first sentence of your second paragraph. 🙂

      Oh, man, the bikes. Bikes are a great way to reduce emissions, reduce traffic congestion (since a bike takes up waaay less space on the road than a car), and do something healthy all at the same time. I think most people don’t do it because of the physical effort – it’s so much easier to get in a car and sit. Again, this makes me sad.

      • I wish there were a like button for this comment!

    • ” and/or really dramatic permanent increases in the cost of gasoline”

      I’m so glad you brought this up. I have contended for YEARS that EVs are not too expensive. Gasoline is too cheap. I’m quite serious. We don’t pay at the pump what gasoline really costs us, so EVs appear to be expensive right now. How much is your health, your security and your way of life worth to you?

      • T Adkins

        Well we kinda pay for the gas cost we just dont see it directly with the government paying subsidies to oil companies, paying to have our military protect shipping lanes and many other hidden costs that I really dont want to get into naming. If we actually had the cost hitting us directly it make more of a case for EVs. I would rather have an EV and give my money to domestic coal and natural gas than to send money out of the country to foreign oil producers that other than liking our money dont really like us. When that money leaves here it doesnt come back.
        But I am still trying to wrap my head around how we are the biggest oil importing country but one of the worlds largest exporters of diesel(esp the low sulfur stuff mandated for Europe) and that we export gasoline instead of lowering cost here but there has to be money in keeping our price where it is at and exporting the finished goods.

        -T

  • Sean O Grady

    I’d love to have some kind of electric vehicle. I would drive it to work every day. My truck is paid for, but it’s the only vehicle here that can get the 1/2 mile, all uphill, to our house and back down again if there’s any snow, so I have to keep it. If I could get an EV I would, but I just can’t afford another bill. For most of us out here, the cost is a real issue.

    • Point taken! 🙂 …I have no idea how well ANY of the EVs we’ve covered on here would do going uphill in the snow. Also, I’m pretty sure my tiny little gas-powered car wouldn’t go uphill in the snow either, so this seems like a totally valid concern.

      But yeah, price. Price is kind of the sticking point for a lot of people. For the record, it’s the one that I totally understand.

      • T Adkins

        Bremach make gas, diesel, CNG, electric, and hybrid versions of the T-Rex but it is very pricey for a truck even tho it can seat 6 and climb some truly steep and crazy grades and terrain. But it is over $100k for that beast. And you guys did cover the T-Rex in April of 2011. I dont think they offer the diesel here in the states or it wasnt an option on their US website, but for over $100k I would love it to be an option.

        -T

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  • Richard

    If I were in the market for a new car. The only Electric car that I would consider ATM would be the Chevy Volt.
    I don’t want to own two cars people. The other Electric cars can not fill the first car and only car slot in my life. What part of this do the marketer of electric cars not understand.
    At the current time an electric car would be secondary transportation.

    • What is it that you need your car to do that an electric car doesn’t or can’t? (Tone is hard to convey in text – please read this as a polite and well-meaning question. 🙂 )

    • What the marketers DO understand is that not everybody is YOU. There are multiple millions of two-vehicle households in the USA. Though an EV may not work for you right now, let’s support them for the people who CAN use them conveniently today.

  • Marc P.

    I may or may not be a typical consumer but for me, there are three things that will keep me from buying an electric vehicle.
    1. Range
    2. Range
    3. Range
    As it has been said, a Volt or Volt type vehicle is, for now, ideal. You only use electricity on your daily commutes and recharge at night, but you still have the range needed for weekend get aways, once in a while.

    • Having the option to get in the car and go is important. 🙂 Totally with you there. That having been said, how often do you take long trips, how long IS a long trip, and would it be worth it to rent a car on those occasions? (Tone is hard to convey through text, so please read this as polite and curious – I don’t know if this is something you’ve already considered or not.)

      I ask because this is pretty much where I go when thinking about the practicalities of having less range and needing more recharge time than you get with driving a car with a combustion engine. 🙂

      • Tim Cleland

        The “What if” scenarios cause a lot of people to make odd decisions. A very good example of that is
        the AWD or 4WD fascination. There are people where I live that refuse to own anything but a 4WD/AWD vehicle. There are only 4 months out of the year where we might get snow and of those, only maybe 2 days of the year when the snow gets bad enough to warrant 4WD (although FWD has gotten me through those times just fine). So, they buy a vehicle that gets avg 15-20 mpg instead of 25-30 mpg and drive it 365 days/year to mitigate those 2 days when they might need it.

        Another example is 4-door pick-up trucks. People buy those so they can haul their family and have a pickup truck “just in case” they need to haul something. Most of those things get less than 17 mpg. It never occurs to them to just get a utility trailer (Home Depot sells them for $600-1500 depending on size) and put a trailer hitch on a much cheaper sedan (or small SUV). So they drive a $35K vehicle getting 17 mpg on their commute when they could have bought a $18-25K sedan (getting 30+ mpg) and put about $1000-2000 into it for trailer and hitch.

        • Marc P.

          It’s not always a “what if” scenario, but a “definitely sometimes” situation. I do a lot of whitewater canoeing and since I don’t have any such river in my back yard, I do have to travel to get there. In my outdoor club, we do try to car share as much as possible, but we still travel 150 to 300 kms each way on a regular basis, easily 8 to 10 weekends a year. Once my car is beside a river at the put-in spot in the woods, 10 to 40 kms from any house or electrical outlet… it would take about 4 months of constant sunshine on a roof sunpanel to charge up the car enough to get me back home.
          Simply not practical. That is why I think a Volt or Volt type vehicle is ideal. As technology evolves, I figure they will be able to enlarge the battery portion and reduce the gas engine and still get something reasonable. I just don’t understand why environmental purists balk at the Volt. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best idea / concept. As a person who can’t afford and doesn’t have the room for two cars, a Volt or Volt-type vehicle will get me to buy an *almost* electric car sooner than a Leaf ever will.

  • Vince

    I almost wonder if the happy medium that will convince most people to purchase an electric vehicle
    is to produce a vehicle with a 200Nm electric motor in the rear, 10KWh battery under the back seats. (2kwh packs in tandem to link up the voltage,
    a 500cc motor in the front that is connected to a generator and geared to a 4th gear for highway cruising above 45mph.
    I could only estimate a 1.4 tonne car could travel 30 miles on battery alone but well over 300 miles on 3 gallons.
    Im not I scientist so dont quote my figures but this will be a happy medium till batterys get really good.

    • More or less a variation on a hybrid, yeah? There are boats that do this, actually, which is pretty neat.

  • here’s a couple of ideas that slowed me down when considering purchase – 1) was the manufacturers warranty on the critical elements (batteries/hybrid systems) competitive with conventional warranties. 2) was there an extended warranty available for the batteries/hybrid systems. 3) fear of high cost of replacing batteries after 100-200,000 miles. 4) concern that rapid improvement in technology and proliferation of new models will cause staggering devaluation, more rapid than conventional.

    • Well stated!

      1 – I am actually not sure, you’d have to go directly to the manufacturer for that one. 🙂
      2 – same as above.
      3 – man, what are you driving NOW that you don’t worry about replacing expensive parts after 100,000 miles??? I want one!
      4 – this is actually possible, but how much it affects you depends on how long you’re keeping the car, I guess. I tend to drive something until it dies permanently (or someone who is not me crashes my car, which has happened more often than I am happy with), but I don’t think that’s what most people do.

  • mark

    The 3 things that are stoping me buying an electric car are,
    cost
    proven reliability
    A suitable car for my needs,
    Sort these out and i would jump at the chance of owning one.

    • Well, fewer moving parts in an electric motor means fewer chances for something to break down – so I think you’re likely to get more reliability from an electric motor than a combustion engine. As far as the rest of the car is concerned, well, that’s a fair question no matter what’s under the hood.

      Cost – yeah, I’m with you there. They’re not cheap.

      The final question then becomes – what are your needs? What’s suitable?

    • @Mark –

      All I can tell you from your list is that my 2002 Rav4EV has been my cheapest-to-own vehicle of all time. And it has never been serviced in almost ten years, 90,000 miles. No oil changes, no plugs, no air filters no exhaust, no tuneup. I have replaced the tires once, the front brakes once, and a $100 capacitor. One set of wipers too. My fuel is free from my paid-for solar system on the roof. It basically costs me nothing to drive this car, and reliability has been second to none.

      You’re looking for proven reliability… just ask the long-term EV drivers and you’ll soon learn that being scared of the reliability of an unknown technology is not the same as it being poor.

      • Tim Cleland

        Thanks for posting, Darell That’s some very good info. Together with the info we have on hybrid batteries lasting longer than expected, this should provide people with some peace of mind.

        I’ve often thought that EVs could provide an incentive to go solar. As it is, my electric bill is almost always under $40/month (and usually closer to $35). Going solar now just wouldn’t save me that much money ($40 x 12 is $480/year) given the price of solar equipment. However, if solar power could not only save me the $480/year but also the ~$1200 per year I spend on gasoline (not to mention oil changes, air filters, etc.), then we’re talking real money.

        • Every time this has been surveyed, we find that buying an EV leads to installing solar at least 50% of the time. The two are symbiotic. The solar makes the driving clean, and the EV make the solar pay of very quickly. In my case, if the price of offset gasoline is factored in, my solar system paid for itself the instant I turned it on. Truly, my EV and Solar system combined (purchased about 10 years ago) is the best investment I believe I’ve ever made. For a total of $40,000 I purchased a new car, and fuel for this car and any future car for the rest of my life. That my home electricity bill is also under $6/month is just icing on the cake.

          And that’s just the superficial financial aspect of it all. I have also bought clean air and water. Less dependence on foreign oil. Less noise pollution. A more secure nation. Independence from ever-increasing energy prices. For 1.5 years my family had no income. What was great was that we had free mobility. Driving where we needed to go cost us nothing.

    • SteveEV

      Wow, those are the reasons I bought an EV. My 1999 Ford Ranger Electric cost the same as a hybrid, has almost no service needs, hauls my stuff to and from the job sites and costs much much less to run. I budget about $24 per year to change the wipers and rotate the tires and spend about $.03 per mile. The price of gas has gone up almost two dollars per gallon since I have stopped buying it.

      • The story I like to tell:
        When I purchased my Rav4EV, gasoline was $1.80 per gallon. I was an idiot for spending ~$30k on a car with limited range when gasoline cars, and their fuel was so cheap! Fast Forward to 2008-2009. I’m still driving the same car (still fueled by sunshine), and gas is brushing against $5.00 per gallon. Suddenly, with no other change, I’m the smartest guy on the block. Some of the slower learners even managed to call me “lucky.” Of course as the price of gas dropped recently, I’m slowly dipping back into the idiot category. Something tells me I’ll be smart and lucky once again though… and I likely won’t have to wait very long.

  • The three biggest concerns for me are:
    1. Range – I have put 70K on my car in 3.5 years due to travelling. The travelling is not always known on the day that I travel, so I have to be ready to go 150+ miles at any given time. All electric cars just aren’t there yet, and in Oregon, the ubiquity of charging stations is limited, especially when going outside of the PDX area.
    2. Cost – My car is paid off, and the thought of paying for another car that is much more expensive for less range is not an option.
    3. Size – All the cars are too small. Sat in a Leaf and a Volt, and in both, my knees were hitting the steering wheel. Even if I was down to my ideal weight, my knee position and leg length are fixed.

    For my wife, she not only like to do things like snowshoe, but she also likes to hike. For her, going off-road is a major consideration for her next vehicle, which will be a truck. Unless they make a solid, off-road electric truck, that is not an option. People use AWD and 4WD for more than just snow.

    As for the garage, we have two motorcycles and two cars. The motorcycles and one car get the garage, and her truck gets the outside. So, people do have a reason not to park their car in the garage, and not every couple wants to buy a house with a three car garage when they don’t need that size of house.

    For most people, range and cost are the big deals. People don’t want to have to worry when they are stuck in an urban area on the freeway and not moving that they are going to last with their charge until they can either find a spot to charge or get home. Until the electric car is more affordable and gets a range over 200 miles, peoples perception of the net value of the electric car in the US may not change for a while.

    • Your post contains several generalizations like, “most people” and “all cars.” Please understand that your needs are YOUR needs. And state them that way. It turns out that most of us feel that everybody else is just like us in our needs and wants. Surprise. It just isn’t so. I fully understand that YOU feel the need for a bigger car, longer range and 4WD and all that. But please don’t assume that it is the case for “most people” unless you actually survey most people.

      I also ask that you learn a bit more before making senseless claims such as, “People don’t want to have to worry when they are stuck in an urban area on the freeway and not moving that they are going to last with their charge until they can either find a spot to charge or get home.”

      The only people who would worry about being stuck on the road and not making it home on their battery charge are those who have zero experience with EVs. Slow traffic, congestion, stop-and-go all *increase* the range of EVs while they decrease the range of gas cars. I know, crazy right? Yet true. The thing to be wary of in an EV is long-distance high-speed driving. NOT the sort of congestion that is becoming so commonplace in urban centers. Urban centers with congested traffic is where EVs are most efficient… and where they truly shine.

    • T Adkins

      @Steve
      There may be EVs out or soon to be out that may meet your needs and address 2 of your 3 issues with them. The up front cost is alot for them but they usually lead to long term savings. Point 1 and 3 might be addressed by the soon to hit the market Tesla S it should have the range and hopefully it will have the leg room you want.

      Putting 70k miles on your car if it got 30mpg at $3.50 a gallon would mean you paid @$8200 for gas, unsure what you paid for maintenance but electric car you usually just have to replace tires and brakes but the brake wear less with regenerative braking. So the IRS figure wear and tear maintenance and gas runs the average Joe in the average car about $0.51 per mile so with 70k on the car that is supposed to work out to $35,700 this value is supposed include depreciation(the figure I used puts depreciation at $0.05/mile) on the car; without depreciation it is still about $32,200. SteveEV in a post above claim he budgets $24 a year on an EV truck he has had since 1999 and pays $0.03 per mile.

      For off road they do make electric utility side by side atvs. Polaris is working with quite a few electric vehicle makers like Brammo. Epic puts out the EV Amp side by side atv it tops 50mph and says it will do 60 miles off road. If your wife wants a truck well she wants a truck I am just putting an off road option out there for you.

      -T

  • sander

    As soon as ev’s match normal cars in practically i will order one immediately. My dayly milage is in range of an ev on the market today, but sometimes you just need to drive 500 or 1000 miles without delays. I am also a tall/big guy so i need a car i can sit in comfortably without getting back pain. Most ev’s i’ve seen are either small or ugly and small. The technology is just not quite there yet.

  • George

    I think the Electric Car will become more affordable and attractive when it has an onboard highly-efficient thermoelectric generator. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqnk19hn7Rc

  • Dan Woodward

    I am all for motor driven cars (electric), but, their is an ANXIETY associated with a pure electric one. What driver wants to get caught in a serious slow down (or stoppage) on a freeway while driving an all-electric? But the solution is already in play: the hybrid. What is wrong with having a small engine on board to charge the batteries? Even the Chevy Volt can do that. Eventually we will have other technology to charge the batteries “on line” that do not burn gas or diesel (maybe even a LENR device!).

  • Nixon

    First off, I think the claim that people are not buying EV’s is bull. Sales of the Leaf haven’t even spread nation-wide yet, and Volt sales only went nation-wide right before the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. To make some sort of claim about this being the DEATH of the electric car is beyond irresponsible. Here is an idea, how about actually seeing what a full year of actual nation-wide sales actually does before getting all dramatic.

    With that said, of course there is a huge challenge for people to buy EV’s and other green cars. The Median Family Income of all new gas car buyers is right around ~$70,000 dollars a year, and they buy a gas car with an average final sales price of ~$30,000. Unfortunately, this isn’t the same economic group who typically cares as much about the price of gas as their fellow typical Americans with a Median Family Income somewhere in the upper fourty-thousand range who ALMOST ALWAYS have to resort to buying used cars.

    So the strongest demand is from people who buy used cars.

    This is nothing new. The used car market has for a long time demanded higher MPG cars than new car buyers. It will always be a problem in the future too, but it will become less and less of a problem as EV’s become cheaper to attract more lower income buyers who typically buy used, and more capable to attract more typical new car buyers.

    That’s what the roll-out of a new technology means. Whether it’s iPhones, or computers, or every single other new technology released since the beginning of the Industrial Age. There is no magic short-cut for EV’s to take. They will have to work their way into the market just like every single other new technology. Starting the funeral precession now is completely stupid.

    • Tim Cleland

      This is where I say, “Thank goodness for rich people.” Seriously, rich consumers are the ones who make new technology possible by not being price sensitive. They go out and buy $10,000 big screen HDTVs and that eventually leads to big screen HDTVs costing ~$1000 or so. The same will be true for EVs but only if the technology can be made more efficient through scaling up.

  • Don Myrick

    One reason Americans love automobiles is the degree of freedom they enable, and few of us care to arrange our lives around the locations of recharging facilities.

    A local radio broadcaster told of his experience of traveling in his Nissan Leaf to a remote broadcast off his established routes. Realizing that he could not make it to his next destination without a recharge, he had to search for a Nissan dealer who could charge his car. There are many places in my sprawling town where he would not have found a convenient recharge.

    Yes, electric cars would have to be very much cheaper than I.C. cars before that kind of headache would be worthwhile to very many of us.

  • Michael Fairbank

    In an era when mostly only rich people could afford cars and Karl Benz believed the car would never be an important transportation mode due the lack of trained chauffeurs, Henry Ford made his cars cheap enough for the people who built them to buy them. Thus was born the mass market.

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    • The author kvetches about people who drive an average of 20 – 60 miles daily wanting greater range, as if that is unreasonable. He reminds me of the joke about the guy who drowned in water that was only a foot deep, on average. Americans want the freedom and convenience to go further when they wish.