Is the Electric Car Market Being Held Back by a Lack of Charging Stations?

Electric cars
Electric cars

There is no doubt that there is momentum within the electric car/electric vehicle market and many manufacturers around the world are looking to cement their place in this future arena. There has been much discussion as to why the sector has not "taken off" as such and while the general worldwide economic downturn has not helped the situation, many people believe that a lack of charging stations is behind the recent disappointing sales numbers.

Has the charge for electric cars finally begun?

There is no doubt that sales of electric cars have increased dramatically over the last decade and indeed, to give an example, sales in the UK doubled during 2012. While these sales numbers are based upon relatively low base figures, they do give an idea of how the market can and should develop in the years ahead.

There are a number of factors to take into consideration, which includes the price of vehicles, cost of running vehicles, financial incentives from governments around the world and charging stations.

The price of electric vehicles

The price of electric vehicles, taking out all financial incentives and subsidies from governments around the world, is significantly higher than that for traditional fuel-based systems. However, there is no doubt that in the long run there are major benefits to running an electric vehicle, with many experts suggesting that year three of ownership is when the real savings will begin to kick in.

It is also certain that as electric vehicles move further towards "critical mass", there will be a reduction in the cost of the technology, components, and indeed electric vehicles as a whole. This is when we will see significant competition in the sector, pricing pressure and a better deal for consumers.

Cost of running vehicles

The cost of running an electric vehicle, taking into account recharging, insurance, running costs and maintenance costs, are but a fraction of those associated with traditional vehicles. However, if we split down the individual components, we will see that recharging vehicles is but a fraction of the cost of petrol/gasoline, running costs are minimal to say the least and maintenance costs are greatly reduced because of fewer working components. However the subject of insurance for electric vehicles is one which is very much in the headlines, amid suggestions that you will pay in excess of 25% over and above that associated with a traditional fuel vehicle.

There is no doubt that after taking into account all of the above costs, as well as the actual cost of the vehicle itself, there are significant savings to be made in the long run. When you also take into account the move towards car sharing amongst working colleagues, there is potential to slice away at your travel costs.

Recharging stations

As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, there is no doubt that initial investment in electric vehicle technology far outweighed any investment made in the fuel sector. Battery technology is nowhere near as advanced as electric vehicle technology, although over the last couple of years we have seen some significant movement. Many experts believe that 2013 will see the introduction of fast charging systems which will literally cut in half the original charge time associated with some of the better-known electric vehicles. This will be a major hurdle for car manufacturers and will potentially open up the floodgates from the point of worldwide consumers.

There is also significant movement with regards to government assistance for the introduction of recharging stations, amid signs that many neighbourhood watch schemes and offices may well be financially incentivised to accommodate electric vehicles. This will be a major development for the electric car industry and slowly but surely, the speed at which recharging stations are introduced will gain momentum.

Conclusion

There are a number of factors which are hindering and clouding the thought process of many consumers who would potentially look at the electric vehicle industry. The upfront cost of the vehicle, insurance charges, and the charging issue are just some of the major factors in the minds of many.

If, as expected, there are major developments in these particular areas during 2013, then we may look back on this year as a major stepping stone. Once consumers are able to compare vehicles on a like-for-like basis, ignoring factors such as where they will recharge the batteries, then maybe the full potential benefits of the electric vehicle movement will be openly discussed?