Who killed the electric car?
Despite the hype, the electric car has failed, again, to be a commercial success. Who is to blame?
Remember the very first electric car, the EV1? They made a movie about its demise, and blamed the oil companies.
Well, it’s happened again. The electric car is a dud. The few models that made it onto the market are fighting for survival and the only successful ‘electric’ cars are actually hybrids, like the Prius.
GM put a lot of faith, hope and money behind the Volt, but couldn’t convince the average American driver to buy it in quantity. The Volt is really a hybrid, as it has a gasoline engine to charge the electric motor when the battery runs low. Perhaps that’s why it’s too expensive – you have to pay for two engines instead of one!
The Nissan Leaf looked poised for success. It certainly grabbed the market, for a while. As the most popular plug-in all-electric car in California in 2012, it seemed that its future was assured. Then the fad faded and the leaves began to gather dust.
But possibly the biggest tragedy of all was the failure of Tesla Motors’ sedan, the Model S. Technically superior in every way, this design from high-tech whiz kid Elon Musk wowed the market. It was the ultrabook of cars, sleek, sophisticated and fast. The only problem was that it was also very costly; and the production line was continually beset with bugs that you’d never expect in a car factory. Perhaps the Tesla was just too advanced for its time?
Now cash-strapped and mileage conscious car buyers are voting with their wallets, and going for fuel-sipping turbo diesels and compact new city cars – half the price of the cheapest plug-in. That’s death for the electric car, again.
Links to related stories
- Don't Drive Your Nissan Leaf Too Much - Technology Review, 24 September 2012
- An Electric Carmaker Struggles as Its Production Lags - New York Times, 25 September 2012
- Electric Cars Struggle to Break Out of Niche - Wall Street Journal, 25 September 2012
- GM Losing Nearly $50,000 on Each Chevy Volt - Consumer Energy Report, 11 September 2012
- Toyota kills electric car plans - VentureBeat, 24 September 2012
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