Skip to comments.Dismal Outlook for EVs on Both Sides of the Atlantic
Posted on 01/19/2012 10:17:46 AM PST by jazusamo
For electric vehicle enthusiasts with the if you build it, they will come mentality, who endorse endless taxpayer subsidies for plug-in automobiles and infrastructure to charge them, theres bad news this week.
The Daily Mail reported that sales of electric cars in the United Kingdom have fallen so sharply that there are now more charging stations than there are vehicles. If you thought the flaccid U.S. sales of the Chevy Volt (7,671 units) and Nissan Leaf (9,674 units) were a letdown despite significant government funding for research and development, batteries, charging systems, and a $7,500 tax credit for buyers the signs from Europe wont lift spirits.
Just 2,149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a government scheme last year offering customers up to £5,000 (about $7,700 U.S. dollars) towards the cost of a vehicle, the U.K. newspaper reported. The Department for Transport says that around 2,500 charging points have been installed, although their precise location is not known.
Thats just 430 cars sold per year. In addition, Britain has spent £30 million on charging points for public and business locations, and EV buyers have taken advantage of only £3.9 million of the £300 million in government grants made available for EV purchases, according to The Daily Mail.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has predicted that Leaf sales in the U.S. will double in 2012, and he believes electric cars will make up 10 percent of all vehicles sold by 2020. Meanwhile at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood defended the Obama administrations $7,500 tax credit for EV buyers in the U.S., despite the fact that mostly wealthy buyers have received the incentive. The secretary said the taxpayer subsidy is real money and people have utilized it. EV advocates crowed that the Volt outsold the Leaf in December its best month and cited it as an sign of positive momentum for sales in 2012.
But parallel indicators to the U.K. experience foretell potential disinterest. In Tennessee an aggressive test program for EVs is being rolled out with a $2,500 tax rebate from the state (in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit); a $1.4 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan to Nissan to retrofit its Smyna plant to build Leafs; and part of a $115 million grant from DOE going toEcotality to establish a network of charging stations, many atCracker Barrel restaurants alongside Tennessee Interstates. But so far only 228 Leafs were sold in the Volunteer State, using up only 20 percent of the tax rebate fund thats available.
And on Monday AFP reported that ten years after the introduction of the hybrid Toyota Prius into the U.S. market, only three percent of all vehicles sold are electric or gas-electric hybrids.
Initially there was probably some excessive exuberance about the green auto, said David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research. But the economics are not attractive yet for the average consumer.
The aversion to EVs exists north of the border as well, where the Montreal Gazette reported there are so many green cars, so few buyers as automakers keep pushing electrics, despite slow sales. Only 58,000 of the 18 million vehicles sold in Canada the last 11 years were hybrids.
And as if to add a final stake of debunking to the propaganda that heralded EVs for nearly all of 2011, Motley Fool analyst Alex Planes characterized the build-up as leading to a big face-plant, calling the year-long romance Americas sad love affair with the electric car. In explaining how unrealistic the hype really was, he cites from Robert Bryces book Power Hungry examples of previous overstatements about the promise of EVs that date back to 1911.
As for the charging network, the stations planted anywhere other than EV owners homes appear to be getting little or no use. Thats because the minimum time it takes to fully recharge a Leaf battery which might extend the range an additional 70 miles, under ideal climatic and topographic conditions is 30 minutes, if you are using one of the fastest chargers in the network (440 volts). Most chargers are much slower, and require several hours for a full recharge, which is why owners are doing so at home and are using their EVs for trips of limited distance from their homes.
In Washington state, only one percent of the time were the vehicles connected to the public charging infrastructure, said Jim Francfort, an investigator for the Idaho National Laboratory who is tracking use of the chargers. While over in Oregon, they were connected about 7 percent of the time to the public infrastructure, although only one percent of that time were they actually charging.
So millions of taxpayer dollars are going into an electrification network for EVs that will get little use, because recharging at the stations is impractical for consumers. If the technology ever gets to the point where charging can be done quicker, then all the existing stations will need to either be replaced or retrofitted, also likely at taxpayer expense.
But if EV sales resemble anything like the trend in the U.K., the chargers will outnumber the vehicles that are on the road. Theres no reason to think that in the U.S., where Americans can and must travel much greater distances in general than the British do, that sales as a percentage of population will be any better. Its just not practical.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center.
Everyone should be contacting their representatives in congress to support Rep. Mike Kellys bill to kill the $7,500 tax credit.
This tax credit is for all EVs that qualify and includes the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
Then Obama hired the CEO of GE. Amazing. You dodn't have to be a rocket scientist for this one.
Absolutely, the entire thing is a scam that's costing taxpayers dearly.
Baker Electric made electric cars and trucks back around 1901....if they were a great idea, Baker Electric cars would still be around.
We still have a few circa 1900 windmills around, too. You can see them occasionallly in the distance - way above the electric lines and poles that border the highways - their usefulness overcome by progress.
“the entire thing is a scam that’s costing taxpayers dearly.”
Somebody is getting a lot of money out of this. Who, How and how much is being kicked back in the form of campaign contributions and future consulting fees?
Yes, there has to a few big shots on the take and I’m sure Obama is benefiting big time in campaign donations.
The 1900s windmills and Winchargers made economic sense for their private owners until the federal government changed the landscape by promoting subsidized national AC power.Many rural people,my family included, had power priced well below the urban dwellers even though customers per unit of infrastructure was alsi much less.
So rural dwellers could,actually had to, stop using the 36 volt DC independent systems and gasoline powered washing machines,etc. and enjoy all the same stuff the city folks had.
Now was this really a good thing?Was it within the constitutional power of the federal government to destroy one segment of private enterprise in order to provide cheaper electric?Said program greatly benefitted a different sector of the business market ,increased government participation in rural daily life, and incidentally promoted more rural dependence on government and big utilities.Today the government strongly promotes rural people also be forced (and dependent) to have utility -supplied water and sewerage services ,AND government-subsidized phone and high-speed internet.Fiber optic tubes were recetly buried up my country road:a crew of four to six men spent a least three full weeks on this 1.5 mile road.They had probably a million dollars in specialized boring machines,trucks, and backhoes.(The old buried wire line was installed in a day by a contractor using a cable plow 30 years ago.)Oh by the way,only the conduit is installed so far;another crew must place the actual fiber cable ,and then the phone co-op can install the terminal units.I can’;t imagine how this could be justified economically unless my phone bill and the other 6 homes triple!