By on March 5, 2015

2015 BMW i3

Though sales of electric vehicles are still weak, automakers are not giving up on them over the long term.

Reporting from the floor of the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, Autoblog says that technology is important to help automakers meet ever-stringent emissions standards, especially those in China, where heavy air pollution limits how many cars are registered annually. BMW AG CEO Norbert Reithofer said as much when stating that his company cannot leave EVs like the i3 behind, proclaiming such vehicles would be in demand in the future.

Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche says hybrids were “truly attractive cars that represent the best of both worlds” as his and other companies cross the bridge toward a zero-emission future. However, Zetsche adds that the battery technology needed to get to the other side — long-lasting battery packs — are at least five years away.

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35 Comments on “Automakers Continue Support Of Electric Vehicles Despite Weak Sales...”


  • avatar

    Beacause everyone’s just dying to buy a ridiculously expensive, cramped novelty with range anxiety!

    Why don’t these idiots just build plug-in hybrid versions of existing vehicles with proven platforms, proven consumer appeal and attractive name equity???

    How about a plug-in Hybrid Sonata?

    Or a Camry?

    Or a Dodge “CHARGER” (No pun intended)

    The biggest issue is the price. Instead of building all new from the ground up, take a known quantity and upgrade it with new technology.

    For example: TESLA has proven their platform.

    I could take the “Model S” shape off it and staple a different body design on it. You get a known platform and charging system…

    The only real change is the aerodynamics of the new design -and possibly the mass.

    It’s exactly what they did for the Model X.

    Who says I couldn’t build a “Model S” that looks like a Chrysler 300?

    • 0 avatar
      Marone

      Why the negativity? This is still a young segment and improvements are coming with each generation. You and I both know range anxiety is partly self inflicted. I see hybrids and plug in electric every single day and I’m happy to see the research and effort.

      Any why add spaces between

      every

      single

      sentence?

      • 0 avatar

        Range anxiety becomes a NON-ISSUE when a car is designed with an adequate electric motor, adequate gasoline generator and adequate power for gasoline/ electric drive.

        A good 300 HP and 300 pounds of torque (or more – in the case of the electric motor) is good enough to move a 4500 pound vehicle through legal speed limits.

        They are building these vehicles STUPIDLY.

        Form over function.

        The Karma could have been fantastic if it was more spacious.

        The VOLT would have sold better if it was the size of a Malibu.

  • avatar
    ReSa

    Ah. I get it now. You’re afraid of change. If things can’t stay the way they were, you can handle a little tweaking, but not too much.
    It’s ok to be among the 16% of the laggards on the innovation adoption curve.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I think plug-in hybrids are far more innovative then all-electrics which have been around since the early 1900s

      • 0 avatar
        ReSa

        I beg to differ. Porsche actually produced the first hybrid electric car as early as 1901, not too long after the all-electric car.

      • 0 avatar
        ckb

        “more innovative then all-electrics which have been around since the early 1900s”

        That still must make them so much more innovative than ICE cars which have been around since the early 1800’s or even rockets, which have been around since the 12th century!

        Unless the electric cars and rockets of today are somehow not exactly the same as the first of their kind to be invented….

  • avatar
    fozone

    Kudos to the manufacturers for keeping at it. The only way electrics are going to make it is if they keep evolving and improving (just like plain old ICE cars.)

    People talk about electrics as if there’s a huge pipeline of reasonable choices to pick from, but right now if you wanted to take the plunge, you’re realistically talking about getting either a Model S ($$$) or a Leaf (long, long overdue for a refresh.)

    The rest of the market is made up of half-hearted compliance vehicles, or cars from another planet that regular commuters stay away from with extreme prejudice (ie, that Mitsubishi egg-looking thing.)

    Here on the west coast, Leafs are already so common now as to not merit second looks in traffic. When the second generation hits — with its improved range — I foresee a major spike in sales.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      I am personally waiting for a second-gen Leaf before I pull the trigger. If it’s as good as the current model, but with more range and an updated interior, I’ll be sold.

      Nissan bet big getting into the EV market early and skipping the hybrid craze, and as such a lot of people perceive them to be the top maker in the segment (Tesla aside, since there cars are in a different class).

  • avatar

    I see more and more electric cars on the roads around Chicagoland, and I wave and give a thumbs up to the drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I see em too. I’m on the northshore and they really are everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Stevo

      The ability to “fuel” your car in your garage is a big benefit in many cities now. Try finding a gas station in the CBD of cities with expensive real estate. Hard to do. Plus, I hate going to the gas station. Wind/rain (Pac NW). Smelly diesel in one of our cars. Much rather just plug in. If we needed to go further one day, trade cars. Yes, I look forward to having an electric.

      • 0 avatar
        AustinOski

        We had no idea when we got ours. A couple of weeks later my wife was in my car and called me, furious. “I can’t believe I had to stop at this smelly gas station and spend money to fill up your car!”

        She seemed to have had fast onset amnesia, suddenly forgetting she’d been going to gas stations on a regular basis for the last 25 years of her life.

        We get home, plug in, unplug when we leave and never think about stopping for gas. We live in downtown Austin. There is an off brand four blocks away (with suspect fuel), a Chevron is about a mile and half away and I can’t tell you where any others are downtown. We do have three other cars that are ICE propelled. We rarely drive them anymore. A low mileage FJ60 and a 560SL will be on our local Craigslist soon.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I think lots of people are looking to consider electric. Platform improvements will continue and once that happens, a broader range of buyers will be there. I’m glad to see it.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The manufacturers know that fuel prices are not going to remain low. Already prices have risen almost 50¢ from their low of just a couple months ago and I expect them to crack the $3.00 mark before summer. It’s very possible they’ll be at $3.50 or even $4.00 by the end of this year–right back where we started. People buying the big gas-hog trucks and oversized performance sedans are going to be moaning every time they spend $75-$100 to fill their tanks. The battery-electric and PHEV will continue to rise as the logical and effective replacement for ICE cars.

    • 0 avatar
      blueflame6

      Exactly. People seem shocked that manufacturers and governments are actually taking the long view for once. Electric vehicles (of some sort) are clearly the future (or at least a very big part of it) but it’s going to take a number of engineering generations and early adopters to get there.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I don’t see fueling prices to drive EV sales until the initial purchase price is more similar to ICEs.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Who did you talk to? Folks in Houston are crossing their fingers for a return to the 65 to 75 range.

      The saying you hear around town is that it takes everything going just right to keep oil prices low, but just one thing to go wrong to send them higher.

  • avatar
    Toad

    6 months ago an article like this verged on clickbait for EV true believers. Now almost nobody seems to care.

    That does not bode well for EV’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Really? It got your click. It must still be working.

      The only reason electric sales have slowed is that fuel prices fell almost 50% for a short while. It has already begun its rise back to previous levels and I expect once it stabilizes the average will be roughly 50¢/gallon higher than before.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Soon as gas prices start rising again, we will see demand for more electric cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Like the massive demand EVs had back in early 2014?
      I’m not claiming to know the future but consumers that traded their vehicles for smaller more fuel efficient vehicles last time around only to find nominal gains aren’t likely to make that same mistake twice. And outside of fantasy land no one driving a 7-series and an escalade is going to trade them for a Prius and a Bolt.

      Manufacturers are now finding themselves in a situation where large cheap vehicles would sell exceptionally well, but no one is offering such a vehicle, they are unprepared, but the EVs that lose money or at best make nominal profits must be developed despite low uptake and low acceptance, understand CAFE compliance, but don’t forget a much larger segment.

      • 0 avatar
        AustinOski

        We’re certainly outliers. We traded a fairly late model BMW 5 series wagon for a 2013 LEAF. How I got my wife to do that, I still don’t know.

        But, nearly two years later we’re extending the lease another year. And, why not? Same low lease payment ($155/mo), no gas costs and virtually no maintenance ($0.00 paid so far). I couldn’t drive a 20 year old beater for that, much less something with leather, nav, heated seats and steering wheel, 123 air bags, etc.

        I think a big part of the lack of demand is lack of knowledge and perception. While range anxiety is certainly a real issue, driving comfort, space, build quality and solidity are things people are very wrong about until they sit in or ride in our car. When they’ve ridden in it or driven in it, learn the economics and think about their real driving habits, they see things in a new light. We’ve made a few converts.

        Note – we did not buy this for environmental reasons, at all. It was pure economics and reduction in hassle (no oil changes, no stopping at the gas station, dead reliable, etc.). It’s like owning a toaster.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I have no doubt the build quality on basically all EV’s are above average, losing a sale on an EV due to build quality would be very bad for Manufacturers trying to deal with CAFE and economies of scale.

          • 0 avatar
            AustinOski

            It’s not just that. Perceived build quality is very good, because it seems solid and is very quiet. It has to have extra soundproofing. With no motor noise, you’d hear everything else otherwise – tire noise, wind noise, etc. So, they “extra sound proof”. Going from the BMW to the LEAF didn’t feel like a big change in the solidity and the quiet of the vehicle. Otherwise, it never would have happened.

  • avatar
    redav

    Any good company knows that your product plan can’t be centered on what’s happening right now, but rather what’s going to happen years from now. It takes years to bring new cars to market. If these companies are aware of real developments in battery technology in the upcoming years, it’s wise for them to push the rest of the tech to be ready to own the segment when the batteries arrive.

    What BMW has done with their carbon fiber tech is fantastic, and I hope to see it trickle down to other, mainstream products. Nissan is setting up the Leaf to be the Prius of EVs (but they have strong competition from Tesla).

  • avatar
    tsoden

    It really makes me happy to see so much variety out there in terms of EV, PHV’s and such.. When GM killed off the EV1, I felt that was really a sad day in auto history… More so after watching the documentary “Who killed off the Electric car”

  • avatar

    I’m walking the walk. First we leased a LEAF in 2013 for 24 months. A few weeks ago I bought a used RAV4 EV to replace the LEAF post-lease. Range has rarely been an issue, and I’ve come to realize that L3 charging is the only type that’s really useful. All other charging is generally within my own garage.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I have about 7500 miles in 6 months on a new Leaf. I’ve even made it through the northeast’s snowageddon. No range issues either. I mostly charge at home and my destinations once I figured out it’s range in even sub-zero temps was beyond the 50 miles I needed to go one way. One thing I don’t miss about an ICE is standing outside freezing while pumping gas.

      • 0 avatar
        AustinOski

        We’re on the other end, in baking heat in Austin all summer (though not Phoenix or Vegas like). I notice a little less range but not enough to matter (to us).

        We especially like ability to turn on the climate control using the app 5-10 minutes before leaving the house or a store when it’s 100 out. I’m guessing you do the same there when it’s 15 degrees.

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      LEAF driver here too. Since it’s arrival, the other ICE car has been refuelled only twice in the past 6+ months i.e. the second car has become the primary car. Co-worker watched me take the plunge to see how it would work out; he finally picked one up for himself at the end of last year. He tells me his neighbors have been asking about it. People ARE curious.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…especially those in China, where heavy air pollution limits how many cars are registered annually…”

    Running a modern ICE car in China effectively scrubs the air–the exhaust is cleaner than the intake air.

    China’s pollution comes from outdated industrial plants, not from modern cars. And yes, I’ve been there many times.

  • avatar
    V-Strom rider

    Car makers are committed to pure electric (and hydrogen) because they and their customers can then say, hand on heart, “absolutely no emissions from our vehicles, not even CO2”. The problem is then very neatly passed to the producers of electricty and hydrogen.

    Genius!!!

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