Story by Karmen Cheung, contributing author for the PeoplePlanetProfitBlog.com. Electric cars were once seen as the preferred cars of choice on city road. The New York Times even stated in 1911 that the electric cars has long been recognized as “ideal” because it was cleaner, quieter and much more economical than gasoline-powered cars. Of course this was in the early 1900’s before the pre-eminence of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). The lower cost and longer driving range of ICEVs has caused the popularity of electric vehicles to plummet dismally. Despite low demand for electric vehicles, major automakers are making it know that they plan to bring more battery-powered motors to their showrooms.
General Motors, the biggest American automarket, announced last Tuesday that it would being production of Cadillac ELR, a luxury version of the Chevrolet Volt, the company’s current extended –range plug-in hybrid sedan. Last year, G.M. sold 23,000 Volts in the United States, less than 1 percent of its overall sales and well below their expectations.
Nissan, the Japanese automaker, announced that they plan on offer a new base-model Leaf that is $6,000, or 18 percent, cheaper than the current car. Currently, the Nissan Leaf is the world’s top selling highway-capable electric car, with global sales of 46,000 units by December 2012. Yet last year Nissan only sold 9,800 Leafs in the United States, half of what it had originally projected. Despite the slow sales, Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, is steadfastly sticking to his belief that electric cars can account for 10 percent of all Nissan sales by 2020.
Both Nissan and General Motors hope to lure a wider range of consumers to electric cars through their new vehicles. Though Nissan and General Motors have placed the biggest bests on electric cars, they are not alone. Toyota, Ford Motor Company and BMW are also making small moves towards introducing electric cars into their product line. While the outlook on electric car sales is not optimistic for the next year, maybe this perseverance of major automakers is exactly what we need to get electric cars off the ground. This in combination with Obama’s support of electric car subsidies can increase the attractiveness of electric and plug-in hybrids, especially for more urbanized areas.
In the U.S. 78 percent of commuters travel less than 40 miles round trip, which is well within the range limits of most electric cars. Electric cars, technologically speaking, are more than adequate replacements for gasoline burning vehicles in most circumstances. It is consumer confidence and demand that automakers will need to deal with.