Electric Cars Are Booming But Sales Are Not

Numerous car companies are currently selling or will soon be selling electric, yet sales in the US are low and are not expected to get much higher. Navigant Researchers estimate electric and plug-in hybrid sales in the US will make up only 2.4 percent of car sales by 2023.

While the innovative car company Tesla has been lauded for the incredibly popular electric cars it produces, the company is not a viable option for the average consumer with its luxury car often selling for more than $100,000. The Nissan Leaf, a more affordable fully electric car, has better sales in the US, having sold more than 3 times the Tesla S between August of 2013 and August of 2014. Despite being the highest selling car in the electric market, the Leaf does not even approach the sales brought in by most conventional gas operated cars.

With the high levels of excitement for electric cars, the discrepancy between producer expectation and market reality is a conundrum. Conventional wisdom seems to place blame for the modest market gains of electric on the relatively high price of the vehicles, but some other factors may be at play.

The Nissan Leaf starts at $29,000 making it a moderately priced car but annual sales are comparable to the monthly sales for other gas-operated models. Consumer concerns for the Leaf, as well as other electric and plug-in hybrids, is its limited range. The Leaf is limited to 84 miles on a single charge. With recharge facilities dispersed far and few between, long trips are not feasible with the current electric range.  The pressure to produce higher range and more affordable cars is high as producers move to attract more than just consumer attention.

Even the Tesla’s Model S, with its biggest battery, when driven like a normal car can’t always deliver 200 miles of range, and the [company’s charging stations] are currently 200 miles away from each other. To give a Tesla much extra driving range, the battery weight required would greatly decrease the distance it could travel per kilowatt and also greatly increase its cost” said Bill Reinert, former Toyota executive.


Read More – Analysis: Why electric vehicles aren’t taking off (Detroit Free Press, Nathan Bomey)

He’s Still Bullish on Hybrid Cars, But Skeptical of Electric Cars (Yale Environment 360, Kay McDonald)

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Originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, Millan is a senior at the George Washington University studying Biological Anthropology.


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