The electric car revolution is facing another uphill climb and is in great danger of stalling. The first major sign is the decision by General Motors to suspend the production of its flagship Volt plug-in. Second sign is the bricking issues with Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadsters.
The major reason for the work stoppage for the Volt is the slow sales of the units currently available in the market. As for the Roadster and Leaf, warranty cancellation issues as well as the public relations issues associated with the technology and its expensive replacement costs.
All these have affected the market, as the buzz has cooled down as seen in the lesser promotion of the electric car in this year’s Geneva Auto Show. Many observers say that reality is setting in since the current vehicle platforms still have more questions that answers in their availability.
One such observer is Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi’s Head of Marketing. Despite these issues, many other auto executives firmly believe that electric vehicles would remain a major force in the market. While some believe, others are bullish and foremost among them is Carlos Ghosn, current head of Renault-Nissan.
At the opening of the Geneva Car Show, there is more focus on traditional internal combustion engines with emphasis on emissions and fuel efficiency. Last year, a show visitor would leave with the impression that plug in electric cars would be the norm by the next year.
Many still are keeping the faith, amongst them is Dieter Zetsche, the Chief Executive Officer of Daimer, the German car and truck maker. He and many others believe that in the coming decade carmakers would still continue to find fuel sources that is not fossil or carbon based. He said, “There is no alternative. We believe it is our responsibility to push this technology forward and make it marketable.”
For its part, Daimler is offering an electric version of its two-seat Smart car costing about 16,000 euros or US$21,000. The company is continuously developing hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Zetsche notes the many issues with emission-free vehicles, such as mass-market base, lack of infrastructure, limited range and the continued high cost of the technology.
The market players still high hopes with the market. The Opel Ampera, the European version of the Chevy Volt has been adjudged as the European Car of the Year. For Nissan, it is expecting to double its sales to 50,000 units in the United States. Renault is introducing to the market its very own battery powered compact car, the Renault Zoe. BMW is set to introduce the battery-powered iSeries by the end of the year.
Just a small hiccup for the full electric car revolution.