Up until about a couple of years ago, the general opinion was that electric vehicle drivers were more conscious of their environmental protection obligations than they were about the cost of acquiring and running the vehicle. However, over the last couple of years, we have seen a significant shift in general opinion and while there is no doubt that electric vehicles do have a less damaging impact upon the environment, perhaps we are now moving from a more environmentally friendly mode of transport to a more economical mode of transport?
Over the last few weeks we have seen a number of companies bringing new EVs to the market, we have seen a variety of leasing arrangements, and the general opinion is that by 2017 we could see the upfront cost of electric vehicles challenging that of their gasoline counterparts. So what really is driving electric vehicle sales?
Economy over environment
It is difficult to say with any real conviction whether the cost of acquiring an electric vehicle will compare favourably against that of its gasoline/diesel counterpart by 2017. The general consensus of opinion seems to suggest this is the case because of an expected fall in battery prices, improved battery technology, improved efficiencies in manufacturing, and volume savings. These are all relevant and highly likely to occur in the medium term and seem to be feeding the frenzy of excitement which is currently surrounding electric vehicles.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "If you look at the popular press you will see that the vast majority of electric vehicle manufacturers in the US have a significant presence in California. The reason for this is that California legally obliges car manufacturers to ensure that 10% of their sales are electric vehicles. Sceptics will suggest this has created something of a false market in California, with the likes of Tesla selling "EV credits" to competitors, but whatever you think, any legislation which increases the number of EVs on the road must be positive?"
The fact is that while many of us would like to do our bit for the environment, cut back on harmful emissions, and drive electric vehicles, up until lately it was not feasible for many of us from a financial standpoint. When you take into account the upfront cost of electric vehicles, maintenance and running costs, it has probably always been more financially rewarding in the long term but the fact is, that in the cold light of day it is the upfront costs at the time of acquisition which preys most in our minds.
Governments around the world continue to incentivise motorist to look towards electric vehicles with a vast array of financial rewards for those looking to move to a more environmentally friendly mode of transport. These have been a major element of the renewed interest in electric vehicles and while they will not last forever, they have at least given the industry a significant kickstart in the short to medium term.
There are concerns that we might see a drop-off in electric vehicle sales as and when government incentives around the world are reduced but the fact is that by that time we should see more natural growth, more natural demand and a reduction in manufacturing costs. There will come a potentially difficult crossover point but a softly softly approach should ensure that EV sales do not fall off a cliff at this point.
The environmentally friendly aspect of electric vehicles has always been there and always will be there in the eyes of electric vehicle enthusiasts. There are potentially millions of people around the world who would love to have acquired an electric vehicle years ago but because of the upfront cost, lack of charging facilities and other considerations, this has not been possible. Therefore, as was to be sensibly expected, the real interest in EVs only began to emerge once government incentives were introduced, once EV manufacturers reduce prices and finally, once electric car charging networks were up and running.
Many of us have green credentials and would love to reduce harmful emissions but in the cold light of day we have families to look after, employment is difficult at the moment and unfortunately for many people, money will always come before principles.