Encouraging News for the Electric Vehicle Industry

electric-vehicle-industryThe Electric Vehicle (EV) industry saw its fair share of ups and downs in 2012.  Technological advancements regarding fuel mileage and battery life, along with an EV (the Tesla Model S) being named the Car of the Year by Automobile Magazine in September did not spark car sales the way many market analysts hoped.

However, Pike Research released a report last week estimating worldwide EV sales will strengthen considerably, reaching 3.8 million annually by 2020.  Pike’s Sr. Research Analyst Dave Hurst explains, “Sales of EVs have not lived up to automakers’ expectations and politicians’ proclamations, but the market is expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high.”

The enhanced ability for EV manufacturers to pinpoint which EV to sell and where to sell it has influenced some growth within the industry.  For instance, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs, i.e. Chevy Volt) are more attractive in North/Latin America than battery electric vehicles (BEVs, i.e. Nissan Leaf) compared to the rest of the world.

Why, you might ask?

Since PHEVs have a larger driving range and still contain a combustion engine to fuel with regular gas, many motorists in these continents find peace of mind commuting longer distances with them.  In conjunction, North and Latin American drive times are typically longer than the rest of the world as well.

BEVs, in comparison, are the cleaner, more fuel-efficient EV.  When you factor in how much higher gas prices are in Europe and Asia than they are here, a vehicle that requires zero fuel becomes the more pleasing option.  Their greatest downfall, however, for the time being is on average they do not surpass 100 miles without requiring a recharge.

Approximately 435,000 EVs were sold across the globe in 2012, based on figures from the Electric Drive Transportation Association.  If the EV industry intends on sizable growth within the sector in the near future, they’ll need to be persistent on addressing some of the stumbling blocks that still exist.  From a separate study by Pike Research released in November, three major misconceptions emerged when the research firm surveyed a “nationally represented and demographically balanced sample,” here’s what they uncovered:

1)      37 percent of respondents disagreed that electric cars are cheaper to own at this time in the long run than standard vehicles.

(With that in mind, the sticker price for a Chevy Volt is approximately $40,000 while a Nissan Leaf is priced at $27,000 assuming base model for each.  Also worth noting that Chevrolet plans on releasing the Volt’s smaller relative in 2013, known as the Spark EV, at under $25,000 after tax breaks.)

2)      37 percent of respondents believe that electric vehicle batteries are dangerous.

3)      33 percent believed that EV owners are often stranded because their cars run out of power.

Only time will tell if EV sales will begin to reflect the growth that is being projected.  Who knows – maybe achievements like being the Car of the Year in 2012 will benefit.

Kristopher Settle
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Kris can be found on Twitter and Google+.

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