Try as they might, its hard to put a good face on the electric car business. The problem is the cost of the car. $40K for a Volt, $36K for the Leaf. But the Volt isn’t really an ‘electric’ car. Its a type of hybrid. It has an onboard charging system — there is no ‘range anxiety’ in a Volt. The Leaf is 100% electric and needs charging about 75 miles.
Seems they aren’t selling. Since the first of the year, just 8600 Volts have sold, and about 3100 Nissan Leafs. So what’s the problem?
Its the cost, we learn, from a blog at the Washington Post. Seems the battery costs between 10 and 15 grand alone. That’s a problem. Its not something you can re-engineer and lower the price. It costs what it costs.
So we have this expensive car (Volt is twice the price of the Cruze – basically the same car but gas powered, and the Leaf is easily twice the price of a comparable small Nissan.) Unless you are a limousine environmentalist with money to burn, it makes no sense.
If you want to ‘appear’ green, buy a Prius. They run about $24k
The author in the blog says that prices aren’t likely to come down until there’s a technology breakthrough or the battery volume goes up substantially.
I will say that people who are behind electric vehicles are true evangelicals. They love the concept, have the story down chapter and verse, and certainly won’t let anything like price or ‘range anxiety’ get into the way. EVs will save the world, and there is no alternative.
The problem appears to be that pesky market. The President’s goal of a million ev’s on the road by 2015 may not be hit by 2020, certainly not at the current rate. As oil reserves are opened here in the US, gas prices will stabilize, or dare we hope it, actually go down. The concerns about ‘foreign oil’ or ‘running out’ will go away, at least for decades.
Whether GM and Nissan continue to build these vehicles, which they now appear to be selling at a loss, remains to be seen. If you can buy a gas powered vehicle for $15,000 less that gets 40 MPG and its larger, more comfortable, and doesn’t need a 75 mile long extension cord why buy the alternative? I’m not completely sure that it makes sense in Southern California, or Houston, or Seattle where 35 mile commutes are average and people need to use their vehicles for more than back and forth to work even at $20K a go.
Can anyone explain to me how this produce makes any real sense?
PS Once you get into the charging business, you will be forced to charge upwards of $25 a charge to break even – (gotta have those damn charging valets to run the charging station.) If that’s the case, and the EV has to charge once a day for $25, it would seem that the cost of ownership might never be less than a gas hogging Belchfire V 12. Then there’s the basic problem. You need a charge, you go to a garage to charge it up, it takes at very best a half and hour, at worst 4 hours. You had better be a very good planner or very patient.