U.S. consumers reject all-electric vehicles

Sales of battery-powered vehicles have failed to meet expectations -- but how do hybrid models compare?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Zero-emission charges, government subsidies, Obama's approval and a fortune thrown at PR were intended to promote the adoption of electric vehicles -- but consumers aren't biting.

In 2011, U.S. President Obama said there would soon be millions of electric vehicles on the country's roads. In reality, attempting to wean the general public off fossil-fuel reliant cars isn't so simple.

According to research site Edmunds.com, roughly 36,000 EVs were sold from January to July this year, while hybrid vehicle sales reached 298,000.


Using a battery-powered vehicle requires planning. Many of our cities are not equipped with many charging stations, and for longer trips, your route must be mapped out in advance. There is also the ever-present problem of "range anxiety" -- the worry that you will not reach your destination before being made to recharge your car.

While some firms are experimenting with ways to reduce the time and worry associated with electric vehicles -- such as Tesla's development of a 90-second battery swap station -- the industry needs more time to develop before consumers will be on board and willing to discard the safety net of a car which can switch to fossil fuel when required.

In addition, price remains a sticky issue. Despite government subsidies of up to $7,500 for plug-in and purely electric cars, hybrids generally remain cheaper than all-electric models.

A gas-powered Ford Fusion sedan starts at $21,900. If you opt for a hybrid, expect to pay $26,200 -- but if you want the plug-in, the price rockets to $38,700.

Combine this with a fragile economy, and there seems to be few reasons why a consumer would opt for an all-electric car which can be inconvenient in terms of charging and distance, and pricier to boot.

Despite consumer reluctance, governments are pushing ahead. Fuel-economy rules are becoming more stringent, and schemes including the U.K.'s congestion charge -- which fine drivers for travel unless they use an eco-friendly car -- are meant to both reduce pollution and promote the sale of EVs.

As a result, car manufacturers are offering electric vehicles, even if there is little demand for them. Edmunds.com Analyst John O’Dell commented:

"It might have been better to continue improving conventional hybrids and do more plug-in vehicles first."

Via: The New York Times

Image credit: BMW

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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