Why a sluggish all-electric car market shouldn't be a surprise

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By: SGN Staff

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By Doug Peeples

SGN News Editor

 

Quick Take: Nissan has sold 10,000 of its all-electric Leafs domestically and 50,000 internationally, and GM has sold 24,000 of its Chevrolet Volts – not ordinarily numbers that make carmakers happy – or encourage people to buy them. But a writer in Forbes argues that it shouldn't come as a surprise and that production should continue.

 

It seems to be a pretty sensible argument in a complicated debate. Like most emerging technologies, all-electric cars cost more and have their own set of bugs and glitches that need to be fixed.

 

Speaking of fixes, range is still a big deal with potential buyers. While GM says it is working on an EV with a 200-mile range (about 100 miles more than most), we can't know if that will be enough of an improvement to perk up sales until the car makes it to the showroom.

 

And while charging infrastructure is making headway, the inability of battery swapping company Better Place to make a go of it in the U.S. and Australia seems to have caused some shockwaves in the industry. The bankruptcy of battery maker A123 last year didn't help. It also didn't help already ailing luxury electric car maker Fisker. A $529 million loan was authorized for the company in 2009, but as the Forbes article notes, government regulators are now trying to get back at least some of the $192 million Fisker actually got.