EV Success: It's The Price Point, Stupid
Actually, that’s not the equivocal message we might have expected from a University of Michigan study on electric vehicle (EV) viability [via Green Car Congress]. Instead, the money quote reads:
The data provide strong evidence that a combination of economic and social incentives may be most effective in successfully introducing these vehicles.
The study’s baseline shows that, given no increase in fuel costs, 42 percent of those surveyed would consider buying an EV. But with every doubling of a hypothetical price premium, the probability of purchase fell by about 16 percent. At a $10k premium, only 14 percent said they would consider purchasing an EV. Which is enough to conclude that the “social incentives” of EV ownership are enough to create a certain level of demand for even uncompetitively-priced vehicles. And that seems to indicate that breathless green marketing is here to stay. In fact, if the image after the jump is anything to go on, this eco-toehold in the minds of some consumers will likely be exploited with ever-more breathtaking shamelessness.
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I am getting tired about reading all this stuff about how electric cars will be comparable to petrol-powered ones just as soon as the battery technology is worked out and the economies of scale kick in. It is my honest opinion that in the mid-teens (around 1915 for the kids) when the occasional Detroit Electric could be seen silently conveying some dowager on her shopping errand, exactly the same kind of hype was being shoveled out by the electric car partisans. There is nothing new under the sun, and internal combustion engines have not reached the limit of their development.
Okay but why not have a mix of propulsion systems on the streets today? I don't EVER expect a battery car to be a cross country touring car using a battery unless we move on to some super capacitor idea. 300 miles and a fast recharge. Or some 200 mile car with a 5 min battery swap machine at former gas stations. I also don't EVER expect an internal combustion engine to get double the efficiency it does today. 75 years ago the family sedan got about 15 mpg. Today the family SUV still only gets about 15 mpg. Yes the modern SUV is heavier and has more driveline drag. Yes it is cleaner at least. Still each time we get more efficient people soak up that efficiency with more weight and options like 4WD. It seems there are the naysayers who won't believe anybody would be happy driving an EV and the folks with a copy of "Who Killed the Electric Car" on their movie shelf. We shouldn't pursue a single solution to getting around. All that does is make a single group of people rich. Let's drive a mix of electric and gasoline and even hydrogen power. Same thing happens with electricity generation. People arguing that solar or wind isn't relevant because they can't replace coal or nukes. Put solar and wind everywhere we can. The coal and nuke plants can then throttle back a little and make less pollution and consume fewer resources. We need a little of this and a little of that folks!