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Electric Vehicles Slow To Take Off With Consumers

A number of recent reports have shown that U. S drivers have been slow to warm up to electric vehicles (EVs). While sales of hybrids are skyrocketing, EVs like the Nissan Leaf are seeing declining sales. Despite these sales issues, carmakers are jumping on the EV bandwagon, with Audi, Mini and Smart getting into the market. Despite the low sales reports, many experts still predict that electric cars have a very rosy future.

The issues with electric cars

Most people like the idea of an electric car but want a gas engine as a back-up. Toyota is selling Prius’s as fast as they can build them while sales of the Leaf are down almost 70 percent from a year ago.

Many consumers cite their fear of running out of juice in the middle of nowhere as the reason they would not consider an EV. Nissan claims that the Leaf will go about 75 miles on an overnight charge, which could push the limits of many drivers commute. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that around 11 percent of commuters are driving more than 30 miles each way, exceeding the range of many electric cars.

EVs tend to be more expensive, both upfront and over the lifetime of the vehicle. A study by Paris-based International Transport Forum found that over the vehicles lifetime an electric vehicle would cost the owner about $5,000 to $6,000 more than an equivalent fossil fuel car.

EVs tend to have a high sticker price than traditional models. The Nissan Leaf sells for around $35,000 which is pretty pricey for a compact car. As technology improves and more electric vehicles enter the market sticker prices are expected to drop, but as it stands EVs are an expensive option.

Huge advances in fuel efficiency in traditional gas engines have made EVs less attractive as well. Vehicles today squeeze every MPG out of a gallon of gas in some cases coming close to the fuel efficiency offered by electric cars.

Carmakers enter the market

Despite falling sales automakers are stilling getting into the EV game. At least 10 automakers have an EV model in their 2012 lineup with more getting involved next year. In addition to manufacturer support, EVs enjoy wide approval in federal and state government plans for the future of transportation. While a recently released report by Pikes Research called into question President Obamas goal of getting 1 million plug-ins on the road by 2015, it also acknowledged that EVs are here to stay.  According to the research director, John Gartner, “Automotive companies have made a strong commitment to electric vehicles, and their viability as transportation platform is no longer in doubt.”

Federal and state governments are anxious to get started. Boston has three charging stations outside of city hall and many more scattered around the city. They are just one example of local governments preparing for the growing number of EV’s they expect to see in the future. The federal government has made the adoption of EVs a top priority, helping fund research on charging stations as well as kick in to help build chargers around the country. As the EPA continues to tighten emissions standards EVs will look more attractive to consumers.

While consumers have been slow to the party, there is no doubt that EV’s will have a major impact on the future of transportation.