Too Early to Bury the Electric Car?

Alex Planes sees early sales numbers not as dire as portrayed, citing example of sales curve on hybrids.

Published: 13-Feb-2012

> Decade after decade of false starts have finally brought us close to everyday electric cars. General Motors (NYS: GM) and Nissan both rolled out plug-in electrics late in 2010, and Ford (NYS: F) is now taking reservations on a plug-in version of its Focus hatchback. Monthly EV sales accelerated quickly last year but soon reached a plateau, and there are troubling signs that interest -- at least for the short term -- might be on the wane. Just 603 Volts and 676 Leafs left the lots last month, significantly lower than December's sales.

Why isn't the electric car catching on? Is it technology or infrastructure? There are reasons to ding batteries and charging stations, and I've already covered both. But there seems little wrong with the technology for moderate use, and early adopters have been vehemently supportive of the driving experience. Maybe a skeptical public is just zapped by the hype over electric that's been too much, too ambitious, and too soon.

Feeding the beast
EV hype has had major ups and downs since the Volt and Leaf were first announced. It's interesting to see various projections organized chronologically:


1911 Woods Electric Dual Power Hybrid could coast along at 15 mph on its batteries and up to 35 mph on its IC engine.

Former deputy assistant to George Bush comes out in support of electric vehicles with a brief review of their early history.

Charging Chevrolet Volt.

Westinghouse nuclear program project manager Ulrich Decher, PhD gives his take on the impact of electric cars.

Teams celebrate finish of around-the-world race in zero emission vehicles.

Race completed 80 days of travel time, covering 28,000 km through 16 countries.


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