TITLE: Who killed electric cars
DATE: 02/19/2008 11:28:17
PRIMARY CATEGORY: Personal
ALLOW COMMENTS: 1
Do you know that electric cars were available for lease to consumers 10 years ago in California? Between 1998 and 2003, over 4000 battery powered ZEVs were placed on the road of California by major automakers. There were GM's EV1, Toyota's RAV4 EV, Honda's EV Plus, Ford's Ranger EV just to name a few. What happened to them? Some of them were crashed and recycled, some of them shredded into small pieces. Not many of them survived. Who killed electric cars?
There are a few main suspects.
Consumers: Car companies blamed comsumers for not accepting the increased cost and decreased driving range. In reality many consumers were unaware of EV availability, due to car company's proposterous negative advertising and many consumers only needed to drive an average of 30 miles per day, and there are already charging stations in many places such as Sun's campuses and Costco.
Batteries: The early EV1's have limited range of 60-70 miles per charge. Then improved to 110-160 miles per charge on the second generation. According to studies, Lithium Ion batteries would have allow EV1 to reach 300 miles range at a higher cost.
Oil Companies: There is approximately $100B worth of oil still to be drilled from Alaska. Fearful of profit impact, they bought pattents of the more advanced NiMH batteries to prevent car companies from using them on their cars.
Car Companies: GM officials claimed that they stood no chance of ever making a profit on the EV1. Each EV1 costs about $80,000 to research and build, but GM was leasing them out for between $299 to $599 per month, based on the suggested retail price of $34,000 to $44,000. Furthermore, car dealers make a lot of profit from their service departments. With fewer moving parts to go wrong, the 5000 miles service for EV1 only required tire rotation, adding washer fluid, and safety inspection. There's no oil or oil filters to change, no smog inspection, no transmission service, no engine repairs.. It's a losing proposition for the car industry.
California Air Resources Board, who established the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate of 1990, caved to industry pressure, and also lost the law suit from automakers, oil industry, and George W Bush administration to revert the ZEV mandate.
So, who is guilty of killing the electric cars? The oil companies, car manufacturers, and the government all had their priorities toward their own profitability and lost their interest in EVs. Only the consumers and batteries developers still were willing to continue to flight for EVs to become a mainstream reality. So, we have a verdict.
Consumers- not guilty.
Batteries - not guilty.
Oil companies - guilty.
Car companies - guilty.
California Air Resources Board, and federal government - guilty.
Even though the previous generation of electric cars are dead, I am glad to see a new generation of electric cars being developed. If the production cost could be reduced, there is still opportunity for electric cars to become a reality for most consumers.
PS: this is a partial summary of the movie "Who killed electric cars" to fit a 5-7 minute speech for Toastmasters International.
DATE: 02/19/2008 12:04:19
Economics. Battery technology and prices then vs. oil and gas prices then -- there was no match for oil then. Now things look different. We'll probably not see cheap oil for long enough that economies of scale for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and maybe even all-electric cars will have a chance to set in, and if that happens then even if oil prices come way down the hybrids and electrics will be here to stay.
AUTHOR: Bill Rushmore
DATE: 02/19/2008 13:37:51
I would only blame one suspect for killing the electric cars, the Prius. Before the electric cars only made sense for people in urban areas on the coasts. Here comes the Prius at a reasonable price and a technology that will work for a wider set of people. It's pretty tough for electric cars to compete with that.
Soon we'll see plug in Hybrids which gets things a little closer. Then as technology advances and costs come down we'll see a comeback of the electric car.
DATE: 02/20/2008 17:56:01
Thanks Nico and Bill for your comments.
I agree Hybrid is now more mature and practical than pure electric cars. At least it's much more affordable.
But I still have a feeling that there was conflict of interest and also conspiracy among the government and auto/oil industries.
I am glad that other than the $100,000 Tesla, I am able to find converted used Porsches EVs for between $42,000 and $66,000 offered by a company.
DATE: 04/12/2008 13:30:24
The New York Times recently published a short article by Eugene L. Meyer about a U.S. community that is filled with electric carts, rather than cars: "Drive Carts, Not Cars"
As long as people can afford to buy gas-guzzling cars, we'll have them. But if communities can build roads that are best for slower-moving motorized vehicles like golf carts and bicycles, even people who own cars may choose the slower, cleaner, and cheaper alternative.
DATE: 04/15/2008 17:14:39
That's interesting idea and much more affordable EV option than the $50-100K EVs. I have also looked into this option (Chrysler GEM), but they only travel up to about 25mph, which wouldn't work for my trip to work that includes both highway and local roads.
Sun's Menlo Park and Santa Clara campuses have EV charging stations. I have only seen 1 EV being charged there, a RAV4 EV produced by Toyota many years ago.