We have seen a number of reports over the last few weeks suggesting that some electric car buyers do not fully understand the market and the potential cost savings going forward. Many people are still changing their cars on a regular basis, every 3 to 5 years, and while this was perhaps more relevant with the traditional fuel vehicles available it is very different for the electric car market.
Short-term costs and long-term benefits
One of the major problems in the eyes of many consumers is the fact that the electric vehicle of today appears to be relatively expensive compared to its traditional fuel counterpart. There are a number of reasons why electric cars appear more expensive at this moment in time, many of which relate to the new technology and the fact that the sector is still a work in progress at the moment. However, if you take a longer term view on the cost of running an electric car, you will see the vast majority of benefits will come towards the end of the car's life.
The pricing issue, and the apparent lack of understanding with regards to long-term savings, has been one of the major hurdles in the way of the electric car industry. Whether or not this is a case of the consumer misunderstanding the situation or the fact that electric car manufacturers have yet to get the point across is debatable, but it is holding back sales.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "When I run the usual calculations, I can easily see that EVs are just not economical in the USA due to cheap gasoline. With gas at less than $3 per gallon, EVs just cannot compete due to the high upfront battery prices."
A recent survey in America confirms the worst case scenario for the electric car industry, with more consumers concentrating upon the downside as opposed to the long-term benefits. The major downside, as we mentioned above, is the initial upfront cost of an electric vehicle, which can seem on the high side. There is no doubt that the price of electric cars will fall significantly in the short to medium term as technology improves, factors of scale come into play, and demand continues to rise, but what can electric car manufacturers do to change the image of electric cars?
A number of consumers still concentrate upon the relatively short journey capacity available today and it is heartening to confirm that great strides have been made in this particular area. Many experts believe that 2013 will be the year of the electric car; with the ever lengthening journey capacity, a reduction in prices, new technology and perhaps something which has been overlooked, significant development in the field of battery power.
Battery technology has been somewhat left behind over the last few years with many car manufacturers preferring to concentrate upon in-car technology. However, this will change in 2013 with a number of potentially revolutionary developments coming online.
Looking to the future
At this point in time it seems that the vast majority of those acquiring electric cars are doing so mainly because of their environmental benefits. If the recent survey in America (by the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs) is correct, then it seems that electric car buyers are predominantly highly educated males looking for the latest technology.
This very specific group of individuals who are showing most interest in electric cars will be a disappointment to many in the industry but it does give food for thought. There is now the challenge of getting the message across to the rest of the consumer market and expanding the popularity of high-tech and low running cost vehicles. Once the car manufacturers have "cracked" this market only then we will see a significant increase in demand.
Many people have in the past changed their cars on a regular basis, anywhere between three and five years, based upon the specific characteristics of traditional fuel vehicles. The situation is very different with regards to electric vehicles where the major cost is upfront and the benefits come further down the line, often after year three of ownership, although many people seem to be missing out on these potentially large cost savings.
There is also the issue of promoting electric vehicles to the wider consumer market as opposed to a focused and very concentrated clientele. There are certainly many challenges for the electric car industry in 2013 but many expect this to be a year of real change, increased popularity, and high sales numbers.