Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Are EV's Victims Of Their Own Potential?

EV sales have been somewhat lower than expected and many are claiming this to be proof that the concept is flawed and the technology cannot work.  In truth this may simply be the result of the expected and likely future improvements that are going to take place, and that we have come to expect from modern technology.  Most people don't buy the first iteration of any new technology, be it computer, cell phone, flat panel TV, iPod, or iPad.  They know that waiting a few months to a few years will bring better and cheaper products, which is equally true for EV's.  There are always early adopters who must have the latest and greatest, and they pay a premium to do so.  Since a car is a larger investment than a cell phone or a flat panel display the population of early adopters is of course going to be smaller.  The difference that is often ignored is that early adoption of an EV can actually provide reduced operating costs during it's use, putting it's overall costs more inline with cheaper ICE vehicles.  Also overlooked is the ability to upgrade an older EV with a newer, better pack in the future, giving better than new performance.  Regardless, people know they will get better and cheaper with time, battery improvements and breakthroughs are not only expected but seem to be announced every few months, even though it will take time for them to make it into production.  The car companies themselves talk about future improvements to their vehicles, with longer range and lower prices, but by doing so they probably hurt potential sales in the present.
I'm not sure there is a solution to this problem other than time.  At some point, as with all new technologies, the entry price point will be low enough and the perceived value high enough that people will start to adopt it in large volumes.  In the mean time those of use who paid the higher prices, or put in the time to build our own, get to take advantage of the lower operating costs and get to enjoy the smooth, quiet driving experience, as well as the visceral pleasure of driving past gas stations and not caring about the price per gallon.

Why is this man smiling?  The answer is on his shirt.