Expensive Electric Cars Selling Very Poorly

From CNET:

In terms of price, the Focus Electric costs just under $40,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Nissan Leaf's price starts at $35,200. The electric Chevy Volt, which has a gas engine to extend the range, costs just under $40,000 and the low-end version of Toyota's 2012 Plug-in Prius is $32,000.
Next year, Ford intends to release the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, a mid-size sedan Ford expects to top 100 MPGe and the Fusion Hybrid sedan which Ford projects will get 47 MPG.
The introducing of the Focus Electric brings more competition to the electric car segment. At the same time, all electric cars which run on expensive batteries face competition from hybrids and more efficient gasoline powered vehicles.
In its first year, sales of GM's Chevy Volt fell short of the company's targets, having sold 7,671 in 2011 and 9,297 to date. Nissan, which is now making the Leaf available nation-wide, said in February that it sold 10,000 Leafs in North America.

Sales apparently even slowed further in January:

Sales of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf dipped in January, with Volt sales apparently hit by a now-closed safety investigation.
The volume of these high-profile electric cars sold is closely watched as a barometer of consumer demand. Several more battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models from other automakers are expected to come out this year and next.
General Motors said yesterday it sold 603 Volts in January of this year, more than the 321 it sold in January last year. GM shipped 1,529 Volts in December last year, its best month since production, although the yearly total of 7,671 was less than it had hoped.
Nissan sold 676 all-electric Leaf sedans in January of this year, less than the 954 it sold in December last year. The company hit a volume of 10,000 in North America this month. . . .

UPDATE: "GM temporarily halts production of Volt"

General Motors has temporarily suspended production of its Volt electric car, the company announced Friday.

GM, which is based in Detroit, announced to employees at one of its facilities that it was halting production of the beleaguered electric car for five weeks and temporarily laying off 1,300 employees.

A GM spokesman told The Hill on Friday that production of the Volt would resume April 23.
"We needed to maintain proper inventory and make sure that we continued to meet market demand," GM spokesman Chris Lee said in a telephone interview. . . .

Blames media for the low sales.

"GM blamed the lack of sales in January on “exaggerated” media reports and the federal government's investigation into Volt batteries catching fire, which officially began in November and ended Jan. 21," . . .

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Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

The parallels between 1912 and 2012are striking to say the least.

In 1912, Electric Autos were very expensive when compared with gasoline models. Only the very rich could afford to purchase Electric Autos. Same as today, it would seem.

Then, as now, Electric autos have limited range versus gasoline models.

Energy density of storage cells have not improved enough over the last 100 years to be economically feasible when competing with conventional cars.

The only difference between now and then was simple... Electric Starters simply were not available for most gasoline models. Those who could afford electric cars purchased them so that their wives could drive them. Hand starting gas motors was rather hazardous to say the least, and the best roads to be found in 1912 were in town, so lack of range was not an issue, which made electrics very nice for those who could afford them (that, and the market was geared towards the wealthy, rather than John Q. Public).

Enter the assembly line, electric starters (invented in 1912), and improved roadways as a result of more and cheaper gasoline vehicles being produced.

Thus ended the reign of electric autos.

As an interesting side note, Electric Vehicle production peaked in 1912, with production declining until the end in the 1930's.

History doesn't repeat itself, human nature does...

3/03/2012 10:31 AM  

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