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The Chicken or the Egg

The city of New York is considering installing electric vehicle charging stations at some on street locations. If your goal is to entice folks to purchase EV’s and they live in areas where there are no garages where drivers can charge their vehicles the plan seems reasonable. You can read the story on parknews.biz.

Local politicos, however, are not jumping on board. They are concerned about removing numerous parking spaces for the charging stations (only EV’s that were being charged would be allowed to park in those spots.) The objection is that drivers of non-electric cars would be cruising looking for a parking space and they would be driving by spaces that are empty but reserved for EVs low on electrons.

Note that these charging stations would be equipped with credit card readers and drivers would be charged for the electricity.

It seems like this is a chicken/egg scenario. What comes first, the charging station or the electric car? Can’t have one without the other. It must be frustrating for EV proponents.

Only a little more than 1 percent of all vehicles sold in the US are electric. That does not count hybrid vehicles like the Prius. Why aren’t people buying EVs at a faster rate? If they were, the charging problem would, I think, take care of itself. There would be such a demand for charging stations, the supply would happen, as it did for gas powered vehicles around the turn of the last century. That’s how the market works.

Why aren’t EVs flying out of the showrooms? There must be a reason. Depending on the model, they are sexy, fun to drive, quiet, fast, cheap to maintain, what’s not to like.

There’s range anxiety. Will I make it to the next charging station before I run out of power? How about the length of time it takes to charge (4-8 hours with the charging stations like the ones recommended for New York?) They typically cost more than similar gas-powered vehicles.

There are still some unknowns. How long will the battery last before it needs to be replaced? How much will it cost to do so? I think the answer is less than maintenance on a gas-powered vehicle, but most people don’t know that.

Maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps selling EVs based on the world ending in 12 years if you don’t buy one isn’t the solution. Maybe they need to sell EVs based on how they fit into the buyer’s needs and pocketbook.

Most people understand that the US has done more than most any country to lower its green house gas emissions, and that completely removing gas vehicles from the road will do little to affect the future. Unless India and China clean up their respective acts, it’s a hard sell to base an EV purchase on saving the world.

WIIFM – What’s in it for me. Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a society that is self-centered. Either consciously or unconsciously we think about ourselves first and just how the good or service we purchase will affect our lives and those of our family.

The EV industry might want to consider why folks are buying SUVs by the millions and not small, sleek fun to drive EVs.

JVH

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One Response to The Chicken or the Egg

  1. Gerry Cerand, Cerand & Company, Inc. says:

    Excellent article, as I have always professed, advanced or new technology is NOT always the right answer, and can do more harm than help. The technology must be totally evaluated and analyzed, to ascertained its impact on the “good or bad” end results that could occur. The do gooders never totally think a problem out, and the eventual actions that can be the result. Obviously, as the article states the EV’s are not a large number of vehicles on the road today, so why would someone decide on such a foolish decision for such a limited amount of users that would cause such a disruption for the majority of other types of automobile users. Remember “Majority should rule not the Minority”.

    As a nationally known airport revenue consultant since 1975, this was always the problem when evaluating any on-line real time computerized parking revenue control system. It is the age old question of “current vs. new” technology or “reality vs. cost”.

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