Auto industry 2013-nissan-leaf-s-pic

Published on February 26th, 2013 | by Andrew Meggison


Will The Automotive World Pull The Plug On Electric Cars?

2013-nissan-leaf-s-picIndustry leaders Nissan and Toyota are looking for the next big thing in automotive, and their actions suggest it is not electric vehicles (EVs).

Hybrid cars, like the Prius, are selling well and small high mileage gas powered cars are leading the market; but consumers just are not buying EVs even with government subsidies and tax incentives in place. Because of this manufactures are looking past EVs and towards other options such as hydrogen powered cars.  The Obama administration last week has even backed away from its goal to put 1 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2015

While the Nissan Leaf is the bestselling pure EV in the United States, Nissan sold about as many Leaf EVs in 2012 as they did in 2011. In fact, total EV sales (not counting plug-in hybrids) in 2012 were only 14,687, representing 0.1% of total U.S. sales. Not a good sign for Nissan. When looking at hybrid sales in 2012, the number climbs to 473,083 roughly 3.3% of the market and the majority of those sales were for Toyota of Lexus vehicles.  As a result Nissan has decided to shift more of its green tech investment into hybrid vehicle development.

Reports like this do paint an unclear future. On the bright side, the push from developers and consumers for some type of alternative fuel vehicle continues. On the darker side, the American infrastructure might be investing in preparation for the wrong type of technology.


Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison 



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About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison

  • Jason Carpp

    I don’t believe that absolutely everyone will embrace the Electric Vehicle. I’ve tried it, I got to drive a Nissan Leaf; and although I found the car comfortable to ride in, and to drive, I missed the sound of the gasoline and diesel engine. So it’s definitely not for me. That being said, however, I believe there are obviously people who would buy such cars like the Nissan Leaf, etc. and like driving it.

    • Mdstj2

      I have driven a leaf for 2 months and it is great. I am 65 and this is a great car. 10 years from now this could be great with the development of zinc air batteries

  • Bruce Miller

    Perhaps with the tightening of the purse strings the Republicans are calling for, and raging gasoline prices, American will fond the electrics and hybrids a practical solution for cheaper transportation. Even as U.S. economists rage on about debt, U.S. has changed its ways little. Will big business force “Road Taxes” on Electrics? Hybrids? Will the oil companies lobbyists supplant voters desires and force the issue? Only time can tell. Meanwhile electric cars remain in no man land between the right thing to do economically and warring for more oil for America and larger loans for foreign oil for SUV’s and fully gasoline (least efficient) cars. A Question of transition into the 21st century of a retreat to the 20th century for Americans?

  • Richard Dort

    When you look at the sales of hybrids when they first came out and the current EVs I think you’ll find that EVs are being adopted at a faster rate.  And EV adaption really shouldn’t be as highs as Hybrid because you do have to adapt the way you do things to use them.  The technology still has to mature (ie fast charging and battery density).  I think this means slow growth but it seems a bit short sighted to declare the technology dead or that death is around the door.  And Hydrogen drivetrains still use the same electric motors and controllers, so to be pushing that development now while there is available battery technology that is available right now make more sense than waiting until fuel cell technology becomes viable.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see big manufacturers pull out of the market for a while if it isn’t working for them at the moment, as the market seems to be only so big.  But this only lowers the competition to Tesla and Nissan.  I just don’t see the plug getting pulled completely.  But, that’s me.

  • Vince Gerard Conlon

    I hope this article is not pedaling someone else’s fascist belief.
    I do agree that most people can shift to normal looking hybrids in a transition to a future of battery electrics. the cars need to look good intead of looking SPECIAL, like tesla the market managers need to look past the niche and make great hybrids. I still dont believe hydrogen is the answer.
    when you look at a 50 year plan of reducing emmisions, the hydrogen dream wont take a big enough stake of the total market to make anything matter. in 2063, it will all be too little too late.
    we hit the plateau of peak oil in 2006, and we are due for the drop by at least 2015, when that comes, desisions will be clear and dilly dally scientists still talking about making fuel cells 1% better will be brushed aside for bicycles, trains, compact runabouts and Diesel long haulers.
    Hydrogen, your are the weakest link, goodbye. 

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  • Marko Germani

    How strange, a car that costs twice the average car and has one fifth of its range does not sell well. Really inexplicable…

  • Carmoti

    If the resources going from EV to hybrid lead to more consumers buying then it is a good introduction to green motoring car service.

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