There is no doubt that concept vehicles are appearing on a more regular basis within the electric car industry and grabbing the attention of the media and consumers. Some of these concept cars have technology the likes of which we have never seen before, they are more efficient than any vehicles on the road and they offer something different and eye-catching. However, will the worldwide economic slowdown impact the move from concept car to mass production?
What are concept cars?
In simple terms, concept cars are vehicles which are produced on a one-off basis to highlight new technology, new efficiencies and new ideas. They very often contain technology which is perhaps not cost-effective at this moment in time, but may well be in the future. Concept cars can cost anything from a couple of hundred thousand dollars to produce to as high as the manufacturer wants to go. Against this background, will the economic slowdown impact the electric vehicle market?
At this moment in time we have never seen as many concept cars on display at various auto shows around the world. We have big names such as Porsche, BMW, etc., all showcasing their concept vehicles for the future, which contain technology the likes of which we have never seen before. In a normal world, the vast majority of concept cars never actually make it to mass production but the way the industry is going we are likely to see more concept vehicles move into the wider market than ever before.
Have consumers turned a corner?
One of the major issues holding back the electric vehicle market was the fact that many consumers were not convinced about their efficiency, reliability, and value for money. Slowly but surely, we have seen the reliability factor increase, we have seen journey capacity extended and due in the main to pricing pressures expected in 2013 (together with various government financial incentives) we are likely to see more electric vehicles within the reach of the general public than ever before.
It does really seem this time as though consumers are taking electric vehicles, as well as hybrid vehicles, very seriously and willing to put their hands in their pockets for a long-term investment. Technology will change, technology has changed, and to all intents and purposes the electric vehicle we see today is nothing like that of five years ago, 10 years ago and beyond.
How long does it take from concept vehicle to mass production?
It can take many years for a concept vehicle to go into mass production and quite often the vehicle will be different when in mass production than it was as a concept. This perfectly illustrates the changing technology from concept idea to mass production, changing consumer requirements, and in many cases cost efficiencies.
Some cars can take up to a decade to come to the main market, while others remain under wraps and are revealed in a blaze of glory as they approach the mass market. Different car manufacturers have different strategies, different ideas and different goals, which makes this market so varied and able to offer something for everybody.
It will be interesting to see how many of the concept vehicles around today actually make it to the mass market because it does seem as though the percentage is growing. Technological advances have been enormous over the last decade, the reliability factor is now higher than ever before and despite a number of high-profile setbacks in 2012 (most notably with battery capacity), the industry has lived to survive another day.
A number of experts in the automotive field believe that the electric vehicle sector will go from strength to strength in 2013 and we could actually look back on and this year as a pivotal moment for the industry.