There have been plenty of announcements from carmakers but EVs (electric vehicles) are still mainly for the elite.

Alternative fuels have been touted as the replacement for a petroleum-reliant automotive industry. Electric vehicles especially are expected to become mainstream, capturing a larger part of the market in the not-so-distant future. Yet, while there have been announcements from more than a dozen mass-market carmakers about electrified fleets, very few have actually been released to the market.

Where Are EVs?Evs

A handful of electric cars have reached showroom floors. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Hyundai Kona EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, the new Nissan LEAF, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV are some of the models that are available for sale in most areas of North America. But among 17.2 million new vehicles sold in the US in 2017, barely one percent were electric vehicles.

In fact, since 2008, just over 400,000 fully-electric cars have been sold in the United States, according to research by HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates.

High End EVs Are Produced

It could be the way world markets can beat their dependence on oil, reducing emissions and preventing pollution. But it would appear that electric car technology caters more to the elite. High-priced EV models continue to dominate EV sales.

  • Tesla’s premium EV models, the Tesla Model X and Model S, sold 13,120 and 15,200 respectively in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone. Cash price starts at $77,000 for the entry-level Model S.
  • The newly-released Jaguar I-Pace is an all-electric high-performance luxury SUV with a starting price of $69,500.
  • The Lucid Air, directly competing with the Tesla Model S, is expected to start at a paltry $60,000.
  • Supercars with up to 1mW of power are available including the Rimac C Two and the Chinese-built Nio EP9.

These high-end, high-performance luxury electric vehicles are geared toward a clientele that wants to stand out, not those with a penchant for efficiency. And with vehicle’s priced at $60,000 and up, the battery cost is no longer as difficult to justify.

The Holdup in Electric Cars

EvsDeveloping mass-market electric cars that are cost-effective proves challenging. Lithium-Ion battery production is one of the main factors that prevent low-cost models from arriving on the scene. An average cost per kWh to build EV batteries is around $200. That pegs the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s 60kWh battery cost at around $12,000. At that price, building EVs simply isn’t financially feasible. It’s evident in Tesla’s production problems where the burgeoning carmaker hasn’t turned a profit.

Another factor continues to be the cost of petroleum-based fuels. While gas prices remain affordable, demand for electric vehicles remains low. Carmakers continue to cater their production to the easy sales – the 99 percent who still own gas-powered vehicles.

As for electric car production, it will probably take a major industry disruption to spur carmakers toward full-on EV adoption. Until then, electric car sales will continue to be an exception for the upper crust and a select few intentional EV buyers.

Sources:

https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/electric-cars-battery-life-materials-cost#.W6UZK2hKiM8

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car_use_by_country

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_electric_cars_currently_available

1 COMMENT

  1. Your analysis seems a bit wrong to me. You are ignoring the large savings in driving cost. Anyone who drives more than >15,000 miles per year will break even or even save money up front driving an electric car rather than a gas car. At least for the prices of electricity and gas where I live. With my Chevy Bolt, I spend 16$ for electricity for 250 miles of (0.27$/kwh * 60kwh) for mix of a lot of city and some freeway driving. With my previous gasoline car I managed only 15 mgp, but lets call it 20 mpg for an inexpensive newer gas car. That would be 46$ for 250 miles in the gas car. so I save $30 for each 250 miles. If I drove 15K miles /year, that would be a saving of 1800 /year. Next, I have to add the savings in maintenance , no oil changes, no tune ups, fewer brake replacements because one uses the brakes a lot less, no transmission failures … etc. lets call that at least $500 a year. That would be a savings of at least 2300/year for an increase of cost of $12,000. If I take out a typical car load (data from cars.com) I would pay 220 more per month for a car that costs 12000 more, or 2600/year. That is not quite paid for by the savings at 15k per year, but it ignores the increase in trade in value at the end.
    So … there are plenty of “non-elite” people who drive 15K miles per year. Those people can afford an electric car if they can get a loan for it. If they can afford the load for a 2000$ car gas car, they can afford the load for a 32000$ electric car.
    That’s why I see a lot of Lyft and Uber drivers with EVs.

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