Is The Electric Car Revolution Over Or Just Beginning?
When the idea of all electric cars and hybrids was first floated years ago, the big hold back was and remains battery size, cost and overall power technology. It seemed that car makers were hoping that science and electronic engineering researchers would bring them the kind of technology that would allow a relatively small and cost efficient battery to deliver more power through regeneration or some sort of a current boosting process. When no miracle battery or current boosting power system appeared, they went with what they had and that has not worked out very well. Most fully electric cars are still very costly and inefficient, while hybrids are better, but still stumbling along in some cases.
The Chevy Volt is a hybrid case in point when it comes to trying to make electric work without the actual technology to back up that trendy idea. On top of a high sticker price of $39,145 for 2013 that cannot possibly offer any Volt owner a gas price saving reason to buy one other than going green, there was that government crash test that saw the battery go up in flames. While there have been no reports of this problem by owners, there are not really that many Volts on the road. Obviously not the poster child for hybrid car success, only about 21,000 Volts have been sold in the USA and close to another 5,000 worldwide as of this writing.
Now that the U.S. Government is a major player in the General Motors Corporation thanks to a huge bail out to save that company, it is not surprise that the Pentagon is helping Volt sales along by purchasing a at least 1,500 of them. Thatís the good news for GMC. The bad news for taxpayers is that Chevy is charging them almost $90,000 for each vehicle. Actually, thatís a fair price because the reality of the situation is that the $90,000 price is about what is really costs Chevy to produce a Volt. According to a source at GMC quoted by the Reuters News Agency, each time a Volt is sold to the public the company loses an estimated $49,000.
The 2013 Volt is a hybrid four door and four passenger family sedan which is available in one trim called the Base. The Volt comes standard with a 1.4 liter I4 149 horsepower hybrid engine that achieves 101 miles per gallon in the city and 93 miles per gallon on the highway. The Volt has a special 1-speed automatic transmission. The sticker price for the Volt is $39,145 and at least three customers have given it a five star rating online.
The Volt is not the only loss leader in the hybrid or electric car world. Nissanís all electric Leaf has tanked. Although it was once touted as that auto giantís perfect solution to an all electric vehicle that the public would stand in line to buy, no lines appeared. With less than half the sales of the Volt in the USA and a battery that reportedly costs the manufacturer around $18,000 to manufacture and install in each car, the Leaf is not a success story. It is also no bargain at around $41,000. Leaf sales have been better in Japan, but not by much. As is the case with the Volt, the Leaf has a retail price which reportedly costs far less than the actual manufacturing price of the vehicle and one that will not allow the buyer to recoup gas price savings anytime soon.
Hybrids will probably be the likely winners in the race to gas saving and green success compared to all electric cars. Although still costly, some are priced lower than all electrics and may recoup losses for their makers as sales and their popularity increase (especially if gas prices continue to climb). Brisk sales will eventually allow hybrid vehicle manufacturers to benefit from mass production and make a modest profit somewhere along the way. Meanwhile, the obvious answer to the question of whether the electric vehicle revolution is over or just beginning is that we are all in a waiting mode. Car manufactures are waiting for a more cost effective and power efficient hybrid or all electric system, while consumers are waiting for an all electric or hybrid vehicle that does what their gas guzzler does and does it just as well.