Let’s Be Clear — I Just Don’t get it.

In my previous blog I posited that being ‘green’ was reasonable when it was also good business. Garages having ‘green’ components usually have them because they benefit the parking business that resides in the garage.  I also noted that appearing to be ‘green’ for ‘green’s’ sake may be good for PR, but I preferred the “We were ‘green’ back when it was just a color,” since many of the items that gain ‘green’ awards have been part of garage construction for decades.

But let’s now talk about charging stations. Can someone give me the wisdom of installing charging stations in garages?  I understand the need to look ‘green,’ however will they ever be used to any great extent.  Robert Bryce, writing in National Review on line is talking about companies who make batteries for EVs and their current troubles. Read about it here. The money quotes are as follows:

Sure, GM may be able to resolve the problems with the Volt. But the big hurdle, as Anderman pointed out last year, remains lackluster demand. Why would a car buyer choose a Volt, which gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway and costs $41,000, when he could get a Chevy Cruze, which is nearly identical in size, gets better mileage, and costs less than half as much?

Back in 2009, Johan de Nysschen, the president of Audi of America, cannily predicted the Volt’s future: “No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a Corolla. . . . There are not enough idiots who will buy it.”

Nysschen may be a tad outspoken, but if the vehicles don’t make economic sense to the buyer, will people buy them. The numbers are devastating. In October GM sold over 186,000 vehicles of which 1100 were Volts, and Nissan sold over 86,000 cars, of which about 800 were Leafs. GM had targeted to sell 15,000 volts but through October they had sold about 1/3 that number. When you sell about 2 million cars a year, 15,000 is a pretty small number.

I know that people say that charging stations need to be in place to get people thinking about EVs, however the Volt doesn’t need the charging station.  Its only the 100% electric Leafs that require the units, and they are selling even slower than the hybrid Volts.

Are we attempting to create a market where none exists?  Can someone help me with this? Would we make an investment in charging stations for their business model? Would we install them if they weren’t subsidized by the government? Do we think cars are going to flock to garages because they are there?

I’m here, ready to receive your comments, and I’ll print them. I just don’t get it.

JVH

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2 Responses to Let’s Be Clear — I Just Don’t get it.

  1. Keith says:

    I see a lot of Leafs in our fair city, but that’s because they rolled them out for sale here, and in a few selected markets. Btw, the tsunami in Japan affected Leaf production (built in Japan) as well as US assembly of Japanese nameplate cars in the US due to lack of parts produced in Japan. So, we have limited production and limited sales availability. How about comparing all sales of cars in the markets where Leafs are sold. It doesn’t seem consistent to stack national sales of all cars against Leaf sales in selected markets.

    Likewise, we’re supposed to have 1,000 charging stations installed all along the freeways, so anyone who needs one can stop by and plug in. However, only a few have been installed as yet. Chicken and egg, I know, but I suspect folks are waiting to buy Leafs until they know more charging stations are in place.

    Maybe you should get a Leaf for your carpool and have a charging station installed in that big lot at Parking Today’s office… :-)

    Good and valid points regarding the Volt.

    • JVH says:

      Keith — It is also true that GM hasn’t ramped up the manufacturing of Volts either. The Tsunami had nothing to do with that, simply that manufacturing processes can be difficult. However, even with that said, Chevy dealers that want them (many actually refuse to stock them) do have Volts on the floor, and if there were a rush on them, they would have none.
      This is a $41,000 car that is basically the same car as a Cruz had half the price. Slice it any way you want, it doesn’t make economic sense. And untl it does, it won’t sell. Americans love large cars for good reason. They are comfortable, safer, and built for the long drives we typically take.
      JVH

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