Toyota RAV4 EV sport utility vehicle
You're looking at the only modern, production electric car sold to consumers, about 300 in total and nearly all in California. The battery electric Toyota RAV4 EV offers room for 4, highway speeds and pennies per mile operating costs. Some owners are charging theirs with solar electricity, making the car virtually pollution free.

Why Carmakers Really, REALLY Dislike EVs

Some call it 'disruptive technology' that threatens the status quo, but someday soon it may save our bacon

By Earl Cox

For years advocates of electric cars have argued over why auto makers have been less than enthusiastic, to put it mildly, about battery electric cars.  It's a debate Californian Earl Cox simply couldn't resist adding his two cents worth. While EV World doesn't necessarily endorse every point of his perspective, it does make for stimulating reading.

  After watching the EV1 debacle over the past 14 years from both inside and outside the industry, a simple fact has become very clear to me.

Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle manufacturers REALLY BADLY don't want electric cars.

Once this assumption is made, everything falls into place:

Why don't they want electric cars?

Look at history:

Look at corporate structure: Now put yourself into a position of any authority in this industry:

I dare you to walk into the board room and suggest a car that has no use for power-trains or power-plants and significantly reduces the need for service. Now try to find a friend in the room

Once you realize that the BEV must be stopped, you must figure out how. If you are a major multi-billion dollar company, you'll spare little expense.

Now suppose, as all campaigns do, a few problems surface:

Suppose your R&D company screws up and makes an EV that really looks great?

You tell the State of California you'd be happy to sell these cars except that due to your high costs, you have to have a guaranteed market - and that Republican SOB in Sacramento actually calls your bluff!

Now you have a real problem on your hands:

You then have to show that while a prototype may work, it really isn't economical (battery capacity, charging times, battery costs, battery lifetimes, battery hazmat, battery heating, yada yada yada).

Therefore, you put the car into pilot production and get the government to subsidize research into proving that these efforts won't (er) will work.

Then, throughout 10 years of subsidized R&D, battery capacity doublesin the first 3 years with an impressive improvement trend clearly showing, charging times drop to sub 20 minutes, battery costs appear to be on a run-away decline due to mass production potential, battery lifetimes start to look great, new 'green' battery technologies emerge, semiconductor technology improves battery safety, and one by one, all the real barriers fall at an alarming rate.

Now, you only have one option: Kill the cars at any cost.

You then have to:

Now, if you happen to be Toyota and make your money by being the "second rat who gets the cheese" instead of the "early bird who gets the worm", you will pursue the same tact but a little more subtley so as not to truly inflame your loyal customers. If I've left anything out, please feel free to add supporting (or contradictory) evidence to this rationalization.

Oh yes, as others are likely to point out, golfing buddies from the oil companies probably won't discourage your campaign against EVs either.

For what it's worth, these are my observations.

Times Article Viewed: 12749
Published: 02-Oct-2004


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