By on March 25, 2019

2019 Nissan LEAF Plus - Image: NissanWhat does the electric car market look like? And what does the electric car market look like where you live?

Those two closely worded questions may well produce dramatically different answers.

Read enough hot takes on Twitter, unempirical features in tech media, and opinion pieces in the mainstream media and you could be left believing there’s no one left in need of a pickup truck, no one who needs to drive any meaningful distance, no one whose vehicular needs couldn’t be met by a scooter, and certainly no one who wouldn’t be satisfied by a sketchily-built electric car with disappearing doorhandles.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the origins of such beliefs, in part, stem from the locations in which they’re written: San Francisco, Manhattan, and Los Angeles, for example.

But what does the electric car market look like outside of the urban bubble?

It’s not unfair to initially conclude that the overwhelming majority of Americans live in the urban bubble, and that what happens outside of those urban settings is therefore increasingly irrelevant. Yet while it’s true that more than four out of every five Americans live in a so-called urban area, it’s worth noting that the U.S. Census Bureau’s definition of “urban” has evolved over time to include ever smaller areas – called urban clusters – with as few as 2,500 people.2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV - Image: ChevroletRURAL URBAN

As a result, people who live in Montpelier, Idaho, (pop. 2,597) are classified as urban dwellers. Glasgow, Montana, which is more than a four-hour drive from any significantly populated area (more than 75,000 people) and has a population of only 3,250, is also classified as an urban area.

Tucked away in census data is the fact that 42.2 million people live in completely rural or mostly rural counties. Those are the kinds of counties where your food is grown.

It’s impossible to know precisely what the current state of transportation looks like in each of those areas, let alone what the future of transportation will look like. I am, however, in possession of a wide variety of data points that show what the new vehicle market looks like in one small area that looks an awful lot like non-urban America.Margate PEI hay - Image: © Timothy CainTHE ISLAND

Granted, you’ll have to insert a gigantic asterisk. The area in question is north of the border. Prince Edward Island, home to 153,244 people spread across 2,185 square miles, was the fastest-growing province in Canada last year. Here’s PEI-specific EV-related info.

  • There are no EV tax rebates in place.
  • There are 38 public charging stations, plus a handful under construction.
  • A Chevrolet Bolt could travel from the far west in Tignish to the far east in Souris and still have over 60 miles of range remaining.
  • On very rare occasions, there’s been enough wind power generated in PEI to exceed the electrical demand of the province.
  • Weekly wages are the lowest in the country.
  • The only two significant population centers, greater Charlottetown and Summerside, claim roughly 50,000 and 15,000 residents, respectively, leaving the majority of the province in decidedly rural settings or in towns and villages with fewer than 2,000 people.
  • The average January low temperature is 10°F; average daily highs are at or below freezing in December, January, and February, and March.
  • 1 out of every 23 residents purchased/leased a new vehicle in 2018.
  • For every 731 conventionally-powered vehicles registered in PEI in 2018, there was 1 electric car registered.

UNPLUGGED

That’s 9 EVs in total: a pair of Bolts, a trio of Leafs, and a Tesla quartet.

That’s 0.14 percent of the market, compared with roughly 1 percent nationally.

There’s no denying this local market diverges from the norm in many ways, not just when it comes to EV uptake.

Premium brands, with essentially no dealer representation, own less than 2 percent of the PEI market, compared with 12 percent nationally.

Pickup trucks earn 19 percent of PEI auto sales, comparable with national figures, but all of them – including the Ford F-Series, Ram P/U, and GM twins that top Canadian sales charts – are outsold by the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in PEI.

Ford, which is Canada’s top-selling auto brand, ranks a distant fifth here.

And hybrids also endure a high level of rejection on the Island. Together, hybrids and plug-in hybrids collect only 0.6 percent of all Island auto sales. Only 2 percent of the Toyotas registered in PEI, for instance, were hybrids, compared with 10 percent nationally.tesla model 3ESPECIALLY SPECIAL

This specific market, surely like countless other small, rural markets across North America, is distinct.

Yes, its overarching tendencies are largely in line with the preferences of the continent: more SUVs and crossovers, demand for pickups remains high, lingering passenger car demand is shifting with greater frequency to consistently dominant nameplates. But it also appears as though this local market’s unwillingness to participate in the EV market is as much related to pragmatism and cost-conscious mindsets as it is to anecdotal concerns about driving into a muddy potato field or heading to the mainland for the weekend.

The 10 best-selling non-pickup trucks own one-third of the overall PEI market and have an average base MSRP under CAD $23,000. Before perceived and actual limitations are even factored in, the Bolt, Leaf Plus, and Model 3 are all around twice as costly.

That’s a tough dollars-and-cents argument for an electric car advocate to win.

[Images: Nissan, General Motors, Tesla, Tim Cain/TTAC]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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82 Comments on “Where I Live, Nobody Buys Electric Cars...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    Take away the mandates and subsidies, and they make no sense for the overwhelming majority. With mandates and subsidies, they make sense for few. If they were free, they would make no sense for many.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    People in rural or “small urban” areas won’t take to EVs? I’m going thumbs down on that thesis, which is as anecdotal as “you have to live in San Francisco and hug trees 24/7 to want an EV”.

    In fact, here’s an EV market that no one’s talking about: farmers. These folks tend to have a strong self-reliant streak, and plenty of land, so it wouldn’t be too hard to put up some solar panels, and run their vehicles (and a great deal of their other electrical stuff) “off the land,” so to speak.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You can go nuts citing farm statistics, and prove pretty much anything you want. 97% of US farms are family owned, but only 18% have sales of over $100,000. Just 2.9% of farms are large family farms producing over $1 million in sales, but they produce 42% of farm produce. Large corporate, not family-owned, farms are 2.5% of all farms and produce 50% of all farm production.

      Most working farms use gasoline or diesel powered equipment, and as others point out, are too far from most urban areas to use electric vehicles for personal transportation. Almost half of all family owned farms have business other than farming as their primary source of income, so some of them might be interested in electric vehicles, but it would be dependent on location and proximity to typical family activities.

      An electric city car is appropriate for densely populated urban areas, but most people want the extended range of an ICE, even if they rarely use it, just as people buy pickups and rarely use the hauling capacity. Add it all together and electric vehicles are a niche market, not the wave of the future, except in the imaginations of urban planners.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Have you been on a farm in Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska?

      I’ve never seen an EV on a farm. No EV RAM, no EV Ford, no EV GMC. Well, you get the message.

      I’m not going to say a farmer would not use one. The second time they went out in -25 F wind chill to discover the vehicle has 1/2 or less the range it had in June would be the last time the seller would ever sell them a vehicle.

      EV are not ready for farm time.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed, they’re not ready now. That might change. As the tech develops, I could actually see a market for trucks and/or other farm equipment that are charged on site at the farm, using self-generated electricity. But that depends on how cost-effective the tech becomes.

        Just thinking out loud, really…

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          It’s probably cheaper and easier to make and store white lightning on a farm than electrons. Most ICE’s can be made to run on it. Plus unlike electrons, you can drink it.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      The Amish will figure it out. Some of them have solar panels already. Not for personal vehicles because you’re not supposed to be able to stray from the flock very far, but for agricultural vehicles. One of my most perplexing visits to a Best Buy in a town I lived in briefly was standing in line behind an Amish guy buying a new router. Not the wood kind. They have seemingly strict rules, but kinda like orthodox Jews, they’re very good a figuring out 2 or 3 work-arounds.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I live in a small city in the Midwest. We are a college town, where our economic backbone is a world-class research university.

      We have plenty of EVs on our streets. Like most cars here, they’re used — partly because academia doesn’t pay very well, and partly because your CV will do more for your status than your wheels. Most are used 1st gen Nissan Leafs, along with 1st gen Volts, and a few Mitsubishi iMievs. We also have a few Tesla S/Xs, and a rapidly growing number of Model 3s.

      These cars work here. Our city is 10 miles to a side, and many residents rarely travel to other cities. I’m sure a lot of the pure EVs are 2nd cars, but they’re clearly DDs.

      Yeah, I’m not buying that EVs aren’t for flyover country. They aren’t for everyone in flyover country, because some people travel long distances for work — but if you live and work in the same town, and keep an your old car for road trips, you’ve got a pretty great setup.

      I do see that EV skepticism is a cultural thing and falls along political lines. I guess that’s because driving an EV represents moving on from the 20th century — and there is a segment of our population that wants to live in the 1950s, and is actively trying to delay the the 2040s. Personally, I can’t wait for the future to get here!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Electric cars are a Nineteenth Century concept, not “the future”.

        “Electric cars were among the preferred methods for automobile propulsion in the late 19th century and early 20th century, providing a level of comfort and ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline cars of the time.[26]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car

        Also:

        “In early 2018, electric compact cars of 2014 are worth 23 percent of their original sticker price, as comparable cars with combustion engines worth 41 percent.[53]”

        • 0 avatar
          forward_look

          Meanwhile, battery technology has been nearly stagnant for 80 years or so while cheap oil has fueled everything. Batteries are now resurgent and will again provide “a level of comfort and ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline cars of the time”. The technology is developing rapidly.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “The technology is developing rapidly.”

            Brazil, the country of the future and always will be.

            I really want to be wrong about batteries, though.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          I have a serious issue with that stat.

          NO ONE PAYS STICKER for EVs. there is a 7500 gov’t rebate on the thing. So a $38,000 EV sticker “costs” $30,500. that means “sticker” price is already 20% above what anyone pays for these cars. Even on the websites for the cars it shows a list price 7500 below sticker.

          So what I see above is really, “In early 2018, electric compact cars of 2014 are worth 43% of their list price, as comparable cars with combustion engines worth 41 percent”

          OK, so EV cars hold their value better than gassers?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Try again. The three major EV type vehicles in 2015 were the Leaf, the Volt, and the Tesla Model S. Except it seems all models of Tesla, resale is quite poor. This makes sense with Luke’s statements that in his college town they make for cheap runabouts.

            MY 15 Nissan Leaf S

            3/21/19 $7,400 46,877 2.9EL/A SilverLeaseWest CoastPhoenix
            3/20/19 $9,500 *33,832 4.6EL/A GrayRegularNortheastNew Jersey
            3/20/19 $7,500 *12,196 4.1EL/A BlackRegularWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $9,300 18,645 3.7EL/A SilverLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $7,900 31,701 3.8EL/A GrayLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $7,700 37,064 4.1EL/A SilverLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $7,600 35,155 4.0EL/A BlackLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $7,600 46,977 4.6EL/A SilverLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $7,900 27,815 3.6EL/A BlueLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $8,000 29,048 4.0EL/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $6,100 *28,031 3.4EL/A BlackLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $8,000 44,794 3.3EL/A SilverLeaseSouthwestDallas
            3/19/19 $8,800 35,940 4.4EL/A GrayLeaseSoutheastOrlando
            3/18/19 $8,900 23,453 4.1EL/A GrayRegularSoutheastAtlanta
            3/18/19 $6,200 53,961- -NON/A GrayRegularWest CoastPhoenix
            3/14/19 $7,800 35,266 3.7EL/A WhiteRegularSoutheastAtlanta
            3/13/19 $7,000 32,613 4.4EL/A GrayRegularWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/12/19 $7,500 30,083 2.4EL/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastRiverside
            3/12/19 $8,500 21,964 4.6EL/A GrayLeaseWest CoastRiverside
            3/12/19 $7,500 32,00 8 3.2EL/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastRiverside
            3/12/19 $9,000 25,674 3.9EL/A SilverRegularWest CoastCentral California
            3/12/19 $8,250 28,862 4.5EL/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastRiverside
            3/12/19 $5,500 *46,069 2.1EL/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastRiverside
            3/7/19 $9,500 28,405 4.3EL/A WhiteRegularSoutheastAtlanta
            3/7/19 $8,300 19,077 4.3EL/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay

            MY15 Chevrolet Volt (all trim)

            3/21/19 $9,800 51,378 4.64H/A GrayLeaseSoutheastTampa
            3/20/19 $7,900 74,762 4.24H/A GrayRegularSouthwestDallas
            3/19/19 $12,500 22,352 3.14H/A WhiteLeaseSoutheastGeorgia
            3/19/19 $10,250 45,078 4.34H/A GrayLeaseWest CoastRiverside
            3/19/19 $11,500 32,718 4.14H/A WhiteLeaseMidwestArena Illinois
            3/19/19 $12,100 31,014 4.04H/A BlackLeaseSoutheastStatesville
            3/15/19 $10,800 19,702 3.14H/A WhiteLeaseNortheastPennsylvania
            3/15/19 $11,500 31,501 4.64H/A BrownRegularSouthwestDallas
            3/15/19 $12,800 36,941 4.34H/A BlackLeaseNortheastPennsylvania
            3/13/19 $7,600 *38,471- -4H/A BlackRegularNortheastNew Jersey
            3/13/19 $12,100 31,976 4.54H/A WhiteLeaseMidwestMilwaukee
            3/12/19 $9,600 30,628 2.64H/A SilverLeaseSoutheastNashville
            3/8/19 $10,400 29,740 3.64H/A GrayLeaseNortheastPennsylvania
            3/7/19 $12,100 36,300 3.64H/A BlueLeaseSouthwestTexas Hobby
            3/5/19 $12,100 37,218 4.34H/A BlackLeaseSoutheastStatesville
            2/28/19 $10,900 41,343 4.64H/A WhiteLeaseSoutheastTampa
            2/28/19 $6,200 *44,486 2.44H/A BlackLeaseNortheastPennsylvania
            2/28/19 $12,000 27,587 4.54H/A WhiteLeaseSoutheastTampa
            2/27/19 $12,400 22,932 4.54H/A SilverRegularSoutheastCentral Florida
            2/27/19 $10,300 28,587 4.24H/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            2/27/19 $11,200 32,584 3.44H/A BrownLeaseMidwestMilwaukee
            2/27/19 $9,900 49,402 4.14H/A BlackLeaseSoutheastNashville
            2/26/19 $10,700 49,725 4.54H/A RedLeaseSoutheastStatesville
            2/26/19 $10,300 42,289 3.64H/A RedLeaseWest CoastPortland
            2/26/19 $11,200 29,968 4.34H/A WhiteLeaseWest CoastPortland

            MY15 Tesla Model S 85D AWD

            3/21/19 $41,00 028,171 4.9EL/A RedLeaseNortheastNew York
            3/21/19 $41,00 024,040 3.0EL/A BlueLeaseMidwestChicago
            3/21/19 $39,750 24,044 3.6EL/A WhiteLeaseNortheastNew York
            3/20/19 $42,600 23,621 3.6EL/A WhiteLeaseSoutheastPalm Beach
            3/20/19 $39,500 44,077 2.9EL/A BlackLeaseWest CoastSan Diego
            3/20/19 $37,500 32,775 2.4EL/A BlackLeaseWest CoastCalifornia
            3/20/19 $36,000 48,989 2.1EL/A BlackLeaseWest CoastSan Diego
            3/20/19 $38,500 40,176 3.8EL/A BrownLeaseWest CoastSan Diego
            3/20/19 $34,500 85,949 – -EL/A GrayLeaseWest CoastSan Diego
            3/20/19 $40,750 22,194 3.2EL/A GrayLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
            3/20/19 $38,100 32,350 3.1EL/A WhiteLeaseSouthwestDenver
            3/19/19 $36,200 54,158 2.5EL/A WhiteLeaseNortheastBaltimore-Washington
            3/14/19 $43,000 26,754 4.1EL/A GrayLeaseNortheastNew York
            3/14/19 $29,750 70,120 2.6EL/A BrownLeaseNortheastNew York
            3/14/19 $35,400 44,238 4.1EL/A BlackLeaseMidwestChicago
            3/13/19 $37,000 44,776 4.2EL/A BeigeLeaseWest CoastCalifornia
            2/26/19 $42,750 16,128 3.7EL/A GrayLeaseSouthwestDenver

            The data has spoken.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “The data has spoken.”

            In tongues.

            What’s that text torrent mean, EV values drop like rocks compared to ICE cars?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “EV values drop like rocks compared to ICE cars”

            You’d have to cross reference with more data to arrive at such a conclusion. The data we do have shows EV type vehicles from Nissan and Chevrolet have poor resale, which has been consistent since their introduction and aligns with the Wikipedia citation.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, yeah, 28, early 20th century electric cars failed because the battery tech *at the time* made them inferior to internal combustion vehicles. Twenty-five years ago, the EV1 failed because the battery tech *at the time* made it inferior to internal combustion vehicles.

          Technology does march on, you know?

          Some people think EVs will completely supplant conventionally powered vehicles, and I believe they’re wrong, just as the people who said that IPads would completely supplant desktop and laptop computers were wrong. But as the tech develops, the market share for electrics will increase – count on it. When – and at this point, I’m not counting this as an “if” – power sources like fusion come on line, electrics will become even more popular.

          There’s always room for all kinds of tech in the market. Competition is good.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Since most of the EVs and PHEVs in my town are being bought used, or from Tesla, the subsidies have a limited impact here.

        My read is that draw of EVs here has more to do with the kind of person who’s drawn to a life of academic research than with the subsidies. As a general rule, researchers want to try new things and see how well they work — both in the lab and at home. And that attitude is contagious.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    Got 2 cars, one 11 years old and due for replacement. Got the money, got a garage, drive 6 miles a day.

    I can’t look at or test drive a BEV within 50 miles. Nobody I know has one, nobody knows how they drive in the snow & cold, nobody has charging stations, nobody knows how long they last or if they quickly depreciate.

    Maybe next time, after they get their shit together.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I know of a Tesla S a few blocks from me, and one street over the neighbor has a 3. In my old house, located more than a few blocks away, there was a Leaf. Out on the road I’ve been seeing more Model 3s and even a few Ss, enough that they don’t draw an extra look.

    Last week a I had a Model 3 – I think – tailgaiting me during the morning commute. All I saw were the edge of the headlights almost meeting my bumper.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    All BEVs are defective by design, taking a lot longer than 5 minutes to charge the battery, WAY longer than the time it takes to fill a fuel tank, which is utterly ridiculous and completely unacceptable in 2019. Moreover, their range is nothing to write home about, and far below what we’ve come to expect from cars of similar size the past few decades. Nobody should buy BEVs anywhere, and those who already have should get their money back along with an apology from the manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      redrum

      There really needs to be a mute function for repetitive, inane comments/commenters like this one.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        I’ll help ‘ya out, @redrum. Scroll down a bit. There, it’s fixed for ‘ya.

        • 0 avatar
          redrum

          I did that the other 999 times he’s posted it on an EV thread. At some point enough is enough.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Everybody here is pretty much a one-issue voter.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            jatz,
            I resent your characterization of me as a one-issue voter – there are plenty of things I complain about.

            Everyone,

            I like ICE vehicles, and I like EV’s. No vehicle is ideal for every purpose.

            My immediate nuclear family has had 6 EV’s so far (none at present). We have even had multiple EV’s at once and successfully shared a charger in our driveway (my charger now has a 50-foot cable to make this easier). Each generation of EV we’ve had improved significantly from the one before (range and temperature were a big deal at first and then really became non-considerations with the later models).

            I find it ironic that the *entire industry* is working on developing their own EV’s and the most storied performance automakers use electricity in their current highest-performance models, and still we’ve got grumpy ‘enthusiasts’ standing in the road coming up with really the most trivial ‘objections.’

            The current generation of EV’s has limited appeal for some buyers, but the technology is continuing to improve. And believe it or not, high torque and low CG are interesting to drive.

            One last example: I have a cordless chainsaw, three gas saws and two corded ones. The cordless one is incredibly convenient for some purposes – I don’t use it for logging in the backwoods of Oregon.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      My gas car is defective by design, because I can’t easily refuel it at home. I primarily shuttle kids around a small college town, and so going to the gas station is a major inconvenience to me.

      EVs are primarily charged at home via L2 chargers, and so they start every day with a full battery.

      Your defect is only applicable to drivers who road trip all day every day.

      So, you must to pick which defect works better for your lifestyle. Engineers call this a “tradeoff”, and recognize that different use-cases require the tradeoffs to be balanced differently. For my purposes, plugging in every night is a clear win over having to sneak out to the gas station after the kids go to bed.

      Now, as an engineer, I recognize that there are som use cases where a gasoline car might make more sense. But that’s really a niche market inhabited by people who drive more than 2 hours a day (traveling service people, wide load escort vehicles, medical couriers, drug dealers, and some long distance commuters). The rest or us won’t miss handling smelly flammable liquids for a few minutes a week, because our cars charge while we sleep.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        You’re intimating that you have to fill your gas tank every night to be able to ‘shuttle kids’ around your ‘small college town’ because you’re out of gas after driving ‘more than 2 hours a day’ as an ‘engineer’. Nice work slipping in ‘drug dealers’ to equate with gasoline-powered cars. Gassers are not a ‘niche market’ – something a real engineer might just have noticed over the years. The rest of us certainly have, so why didn’t you?

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Tele Vision,

          I am 99% confident that the vast majority of drug dealers in 2019 drive vehicles powered by internal combustion.

          After living with an EV for awhile, some people come to the conclusion that buying fuel at a gas station is messy, smelly, inconvenient and expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @ToolGuy

            You must be dangerous at a gas station if you consistently find fueling up to be messy and smelly. As regards the expense, time IS money. Further, ‘inconvenience’ is realizing that you’ve run out of electrons due to EV makers long-balling every range number. Can’t walk down the road carrying a dead battery while looking for a charge station, though I’d pay good gas money to see that.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Don’t take an Asdf “defective EV” post or any responses it gets as serious arguments. Everything will be tongue-in-cheek.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Tele Vision,

            You make some valid points – neither system is perfect.

            As far as me being dangerous at gas stations, I usually drop my lit cigarette on the ground and use the first half-gallon of petrol to extinguish it – is that wrong?

            I’m kidding. I’ve gotta have fun up here, because further down the page I and my kind lose all humanity…

  • avatar
    Kerfuffle

    From the rural Arizona perspective, where going to the mall or airport is a 200+ mile roundtrip, electric cars are a joke! Even hybrids are of little advantage where 90+% of driving is on highways. Plus, the battery packs of both vehicle types suffer in the heat. Diesels make the most sense here, if you’re looking for efficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Makes sense, but rural Arizona is one thing, and rural Missouri (or Arkansas, or Illinois, etc) is another. In theory, there’s no reason why an EV wouldn’t work as well for someone who lives and works in, say, Hannibal, Missouri as it does in St. Louis. Missouri.

      I’d think the real limiting factor is income – EVs tend to be pricier than conventionally powered vehicles, and incomes in rural, non-metro areas tend to be lower. As prices for these vehicles drop – which I think they will – that may change.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I’m an EV fan, but I recognize that a.gas car is probably a winner in your specific circumstances.

      But you probably already know that rural Arizona doesn’t have very many people in it compared to the cities and suburbs, which is presumably why you live there. Your needs aren’t representative of the USA as a whole. That said, I see every reason why you should drive a vehicle which meets your needs.

      If those of us who can drive EVs do, then the 50%-90% reduction in petroleum usage will benefit all of us environmentally and economically. And it will also fsck over a bunch of countries that don’t like the USA very much. What’s not to like?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I would venture that 0% of BEV owners live in a home without a garage, or at least a private driveway. And that’s a lot of people!

    And even if one does have legitimate access to charging power, there is a very specific set of circumstances in which a BEV is useful. I would also guess that 90% of BEV-owning households have a gasoline-powered vehicle as well.

    So mostly they’re a 2nd vehicle for homeowners, and reasonably well-off ones at that. That’s a narrow niche.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      One of my neighbors in the semi-suburban outskirts of Philly proper where I live has two vehicles – a Volt and a Tesla 3. No garage, but I do see them plugged in in the driveway when I walk by every morning on the way to the train. I figure that they are his and hers cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I don’t see a problem here.

      EVs don’t have to be all things to all people in order to be an environmental/climate/economic win.

      As I said above, cutting petroleum demand by 50%-90% would be a huge win for most of the country — except for the oil industry employees, both foreign and domestic. It’d be a big win for those who consume oil, though, which is most of us.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…sketchily-built electric car with disappearing doorhandles…”

    The Citicar’s door handles didn’t disappear.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/1976_Citicar_6HP.jpg

  • avatar

    I believe EVs will become mainstream vehicles when all of these are true. 1) The minimum range in very hot or very cold weather is 250 miles. 2) Charging stations are along almost every highway. 3) Charging takes a maximum of 15 minutes. 4) The total ownership costs including fuel for a typical 6 to 8 year ownership cycle are about the same as for a gas powered vehicle WITHOUT government incentives.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    In Europe the government(s) want to forcefully push people towards electric cars by introducing a CO2 tax. Electric cars are classified as ‘zero CO2 emissions’ here, which is idiotic given that their production is incredibly CO2 intensive as is the electricity that is used to fuel them.

    I will only switch to an electric car if they have acceptable ranges, and more importantly short charging times (in the region of five minutes). As of now I have no desire to wait 30-45 minutes for an almost depleted battery to barely charge to 80%.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You recharge overnight at home, except on road trips. You start every day with a full battery.

      If you cannot recharge at home, then an EV is not for you.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        I have no means to charge my cars at home. Furthermore three times a week I have a work-related trip of nearly 350+ kilometers. Aside from a Tesla (and only if you baby it), there is no affordable electric car on the market that can deliver this range in the real world under varying conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      They are not idiots, they are liars.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    There don’t appear to be any Starbucks stores in Vincennes, Indiana. Therefore Starbucks has no revenue globally and should shut down immediately. (Eyeroll)

  • avatar
    jatz

    Wish I could test drive a Bolt without buying airline tickets. We can’t buy what they won’t ship.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Car is at least as much of what’s wrong with these things as electric is. Nobody wants to sit on the ground in a gas sedan either.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      It wouldn’t have to be that way if they’d give up the range war and trade miles for some tall.

      Nobody expects to road trip in these little things but plenty of us would happily hum to the grocery store and back, especially retirees which I will be in 2024.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    I live in the suburbs of Portland, OR. This area is as stocked as any with the type of person who will jump feet first into the pool of eco/consciousness. And hybrids/EVs are a regular sight, although they’re still a novelty compared to how many low end econoboxes, tricked out mega pickups, tuners, and beefed up Jeeps you see.

    What’s more telling is the demographics of WHO drives them. Here’s a hint: they aren’t the young, hip Portlandia types, bu and large. Sure some unfortunate millennials are wheezing around in clapped out hand me down priuses. But the high majority of eco-mobiles are driven by aging boomers. As someone with presence in local car culture you NEVER see hybrids and evs at car meets of any kind. A flukey tesla will come to PIR for the night drags here and there but that’s it. The reality is, they’re not for ‘car people’. We just don’t want anything to do with overpriced under delivering technology that is clearly aimed at a non-enthusiast audience.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ah, so since EVs are not your kind of car, none of them are for “car people,” and no one who buys one could possibly be a car enthusiast…because there’s only one kind of car enthusiast, and that’s your kind.

      Got it.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Yeah, attitudes like his explain why the green car guys trade technical info on forums, but don’t go to Cars & Coffee much.

        You can optimize for speed or efficiency — and, honestly, you have to know more about the car and be extraordinarily precise about your mods to do the latter. But there’s little point in hanging around with people who insist you don’t get it because of the optimization goal you chose.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    My wife and I own three vehicles — an AWD Toyota Sienna, a Ford Focus hatchback and an Infiniti G37S coupe. Which one we take depends primarily on the load and secondarily on road conditions. It doesn’t depend on the distance we expect to travel. All three are used for everything from three miles to the nearest library to several thousand miles on a vacation trip. Keeping a BEV for local trips and an ICE for long trips is crossways to our use.

    We live in Omaha, Nebraska. Metropolitan population is nearly one million. Kansas City, Missouri is only larger city within range of a BEV. Driving to Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Saint Louis or Oklahoma City would require a stop along the way to recharge. Compare that to the east coast where everything from Boston to Washington is within 250 miles of New York City.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I live in a pretty similar landscape (also on the “Silicon Prairie”).

      You might want to look at the Tesla Supercharger map. You may be underestimating the capabilities of an EV in your environment.

      That said, drive what you want. More EVs will benefit all of us, but it doesn’t have to be you who drives one.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Especially child slaves who wouldn’t even have jobs without electric car subsidies.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Todd, because no child anywhere has ever been harmed by any aspect of the petroleum industry. /S

          Stockholm Syndrome is real. As are oligopolies.

          Anger often masks fear – what are you afraid of?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Being ignored. Thus, the frequent, loud, angry outbursts.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Effin’ A, Todd’s Top-5 for most knowledgeable and wittiest people here.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Luke suggested he likes EVs because they benefit everyone. I pointed out that they don’t benefit the child slaves in the cobalt mines. You suggested that this is my problem. The existence of people completely lacking in humanity like you is worth being afraid of. I guess people who have to be kidnapped and brought to the EV alter kicking and screaming under the whip aren’t worthy of your kind’s concern. I’m also worried about being forced to drive something that doesn’t change direction with any alacrity because it is 800 lbs overweight due to forced reversion to 19th century taxicab technology. What can I say? I grew up driving on winding mountain roads instead of drag racing at stop lights.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Kicking and screaming under the whip…”

            Oh, my! The horror! EVs must be destroyed – immediately!

            IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            (Congrats, someone paid attention to you.)

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Todd,

            You might be slightly misrepresenting what I said.

            I share your concern with children’s welfare globally, and I would like to join you in your mission of improving their lot in life. My family drives currently drives four ICE vehicles – no electrics. Is there anything else we should do, or can I check ‘improve child welfare’ off my list now?

  • avatar
    gottacook

    If you want detailed factual information about relative sizes of U.S. markets for EVs, check out the International Council on Clean Transportation reports “The continued transition to electric vehicles in U.S. cities” (www.theicct.org/publications/continued-EV-transition-us-cities-2018) and “Quantifying the electric vehicle charging infrastructure gap across U.S. markets” (www.theicct.org/publications/charging-gap-US). These include data only through 2017 but are very comprehensive.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The electric car that is as practical as the ICE car is always just around the corner, and always will be. It reminds me of solar energy. This same conversation has been happening roughly the same way since at least the 1970s. Energy density is not hard to understand, but people would rather dream. Read “Power Hungry”, by Robert Bryce or a similar book and let the scales fall from your eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      You did read in the article: “On very rare occasions, there’s been enough wind power generated in PEI to exceed the electrical demand of the province.”

      Yes, it takes a long time for technology to improve so it is practical but does that mean we should give up? I hope not. In 2018 17% of the electricity produced in the United States was from renewable sources. Still not the main source but it’s no longer insignificant.

      https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      So, I guess that a car that seats four comfortably, performs like a conventionally powered vehicle, has a decent size trunk, can perform all your daily transportation tasks, and can be refueled at home while you’re asleep, is “impractical.”

      Right.

      Seems to me that “practicality” is up to the person buying a car, not you. But preach on.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Wow! Really helpful article, Tim.

    Know what type of vehicle doesn’t work where I live? Snowmobiles! You know why? It doesn’t snow in SoCal – High elevation mountains and ski resorts not withstanding. You probably have a much larger population of those on PEI. Should I drone how it’s impractical it is for me and people around me to own one?

    I’ve own/owned three Plug-in/BEV vehicles in a row. Do I think they’re the answer for everyone? No. Do I wish for more would buy one? Well yes, but for the perfectly selfish reason that if the demand for electric cars remain the technology and infrastructure will continue to improve and I can look forward to better, cheaper electric cars in the future.

    Sheesh!

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Don’t take it so personally. He was just commenting on the difference in perception between what he sees in media compared to his own physical reality.

      I doubt you’ll find any remote Northern people arguing that snowmobiles should be the only transportation option available for anyone.

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        Sorry for the rant. I didn’t take it personal. I just get tired of people rolling out the same tired “Electric cars aren’t for everyone” argument.
        Of course they aren’t but the same argument can be made for just about any vehicle – pickup trucks, sports cars and you know, snowmobiles ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          No problem. I just didn’t think the article deserved the scorn. I perceived Tim as observing, not judging.

          Maybe I’m being a bit sensitive myself. We don’t get enough articles from Tim around here anymore!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Lots of myopia here .

    Electric cars that everyone will want and buy *are* ‘just ’round the corner’, that corner being the power cell .

    Once they crack that nut, us dinosaurs who love our Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles will drop off in numbers faster than you can imagine .

    We said ” ! NO !” to slushboxes too and we were wrong .

    Electric cars not hobbled by range concerns can easily be made scary fast accelerators .

    Don’t kid your selves here ~ I’m a PetrolHead born and will die one too but just like the old ‘T’ Model and FlatHead Ford guys from the 1950’s we’ll be laughed at when we’re still driving our “old technology” I.C.E. vehicles .

    I DO NOT WANT an electric Motocycle nor Pickup Truck but I know they’ll zoom off the lots once they can go more than 250 miles .

    I live in Los Angeles and yes, Prius and Leafs etc. are *very* popular but _not_ by those who hop in the old bus and -GO- every weekend, far, far away , this is a large amount of people that most who do not get off the sofa and _GO_ ever realize .

    There are and have been for over a decade, all electric Coca Cola delivery trucks in Los Angeles proper, they’re just not practical for the longer runs is all .

    Don’t waste your time with “my way is better !” foolishness, the facts are the facts, learn to deal with them and I’ll see you out on the open road going full tilt boogie .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I live in the Moncton, NB area, about a 1 hour drive from the bridge to PEI. I can confirm that even though Moncton is urban, with a CMA population similar that of PEI, the car buying habits are pretty much identical.

    If I see an EV in my area, it’s most likely from outside the area. There is a Tesla in my hometown. One. Charging stations are popping up, but there are still not many.

    People around here looking for efficient vehicles go the Civic, Corolla, or Elantra route. Even Priuses are not that common.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Where I live, nobody drives pickups. If you see a pickup in my neighborhood, they are the landscapers or contractors.

    I’m not saying this to be a douche. I love leaving my world of NY and going someplace like Texas or North Dakota. They have distinctly different vibes. They are fascinated with me, and I’m fascinated with them. I get why pickups make sense there. Actually, I don’t really. But it works for them nonetheless.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    I’d be interested in seeing the situation in Hawai’i, which should be ideal for EV adoption. Small island, expensive gas, temperate, lots of sun, lots of traffic (on Oahu anyhow). There’s over 300 public chargers in Honolulu. What’s the EV %? Are gas stations feeling the pinch yet?

  • avatar
    thelaine

    EV cult is just another enviro-cult. When these cars make sense, you don’t have to convince anyone or prime the market. People can figure this out for themselves. Envirocultists believe they are smart and people who disagree are stupid, so they offer carrots and sticks and eventually, when that doesn’t work, just sticks. Same old story. Clean air and water were never going to be enough. It never ends.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I’m a car guy, own 7 no EV. But for the road a tesla is simple great to drive, I still think an AMG mercdes e63 wagon is better all around for the same money, but the immediate and seemingly unlimited response of a tesla is great.

    So I can see one day electrics being mainstream. However without getting into costs, which may one day reach parity there are a number of otehr BIG questions, today.

    Lets look at a number of current issues. I went shopping for my wifes next car, we serioulsy shopped the Jaguar EV. Cost is realisticaly 30-40% more than a ice equivalet vehicle of the same capacity, I was prepared to overlook that. But real range is a real factor. Firstly you cant really use the last 20% of range without fear of cooking the batteries, and you cant fast charge past 80% for the same reason. If you need heat in winter that dings range too. Realisticaly that 240 mile range is 160-180.

    You also need to install a home charger which is not free, and somewhere sometime after youre sure youre finished driving plug the car in. Realisticay any type of distance travel is going to be By Ice.

    The BIG ISSUE no one is touching is enviromental. Makign batteries and elctric cars is an epic and I mean epic enviromental disaster already. Thats before you get into the absence of any battery disposal plan or slave labor for colbalt etc.

    What elctric already offer is better on road performance in terms of throttle response, virtue signalling, avoidance of gas stations, and heres the BG one, Urban elites can move exhaust pollution out of their cities.

    The price were going to pay for moving exhuast pollution out of cities is an eviromental disaster beyond imagination. Hell we can’t even dispose of computers in an eviromentaly friendly manner yet, were just exporting toxic computer waste to Africa.

    if everyone drove electric, or even 50% did we would literaly be poisoning the planet.

    Yeah I look forwards to a battery world. No noisy lawnmowrs or leaf blower disturbing my suburban bliss. No loud cars going down the road and yes cleaner air. But if its about the enviroment then I want a comprehensive plan. I wnat to know the enery and enviromental input rewquired to build my elctric, and I want to know that all that poisonous crap in the battery can and will be taken care of in envirometaly sound manner when the car is done.

    So far no ones talking about the big enviromental issues with elctrics, if they really care they should.

    Yeah I love my ICE sportscars, and yes for the road a tesla roadster with unlimted power sounds great. But so far if you look at the whole picture electrics are a niche, and so far what they offer is an improvenmt of elite urban air at vast cost to all types of other people all over the globe. Before I abadon ICE and adopt the new messiah I want to see the whole picture, not just the promise of salvation.


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