While 12 months in the EV market seems like an eternity, we have seen a major turnaround in the industry since 2012. The technology associated with the vehicles continues to improve, the issue of battery power is now being addressed, and while it would be wrong to suggest that motorists think of electric vehicles as their first choice when replacing their current vehicles, the trend is certainly turning.
It will be interesting to see whether the ongoing pursuit of the mass market continues to plan, with a number of experts suggesting that EV headline prices will match or beat those of traditional vehicles around 2017. Coincidentally, 2017 this is the year in which Tesla has promised to release an affordable electric vehicle for the mass market, which will certainly capture the attention of motorists around the world.
If there is one issue which still needs to be addressed, it is journey capacity - although there have been some marked developments of late. Aside from the fact we have seen and heard of battery technology which has the capacity to travel 500 miles per full charge and the authorities in South Korea have effectively "electrified" a 15 mile stretch of road offering mobile in journey charging services.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "The average driver covers around 70 miles a day through the week which is less than the full charge available on a Nissan Leaf 2013 - about 129 miles on a full charge. How many miles do you drive each day?"
We have seen the Japanese authorities put aside $1 billion for the development of a comprehensive nationwide electric vehicle charging network, the UK government has responded with a £37 million investment and all the headlines of late seem to be in relation to growth in the number of electric vehicle charging points. It would be wrong to box off this particular problem as "sorted" but there is no doubt that journey capacity concerns are reducing as we speak.
The cost of electric vehicles has been slashed by a number of manufacturers over the last four or five weeks and, as we suggested above, many experts believe that the crossover point between the headline cost of electric vehicles and traditional powered vehicles will be around 2017. Again, it would be wrong to tick off this particular issue but there is evidence of significant progress and more to follow in the short to medium term.
Even though electric vehicles have for some time now been more cost-effective in the medium to longer term it is the initially high ticket price which has concerned many. The fact that this is even now beginning to change will certainly be a major factor going forward.
Everything seems to be moving in the right direction for the electric vehicle industry and perhaps one of the major problems in the short to medium term might be complacency. It is very easy to sit back, enjoy your successes, and automatically assume that more will follow but the fact is that the industry is still in its relative infancy and mass-market penetration is still some way off. It would be a shame to see those involved in the EV industry taking their foot off the pedal and attempting to freewheel to the success which many feel will eventually follow.
If we were to see the same push over the next two years that we have seen over the previous two years, who knows where the electric vehicle industry could stand, could it actually have penetrated the mass-market?