It’s been several years since several electric saloons started getting rave feedbacks – notably, of course, the Tesla range.
Not only were they generating the best performance figures. things such as their range. recharge times seemed to identify that they were practical. So, no longer did someone has to think about making a 500km journey in several stages and over several days, to allow for recharging or battery swaps.
Say five years, and everyone was predicting that by now. we will all be deafened by the silence of our roads as everything changed to a quiet hum. The odd combustion-engine vehicle would be looked at with disgust or sympathy. we’d all have clean air around us as a benefit also.
However, it hasn’t happened. Why is that?
Price rears its ugly head.
Some of the most admired electric cars. those often in range and performance terms are the most appealing. remain highly expensive.
Some models retail at around $US100k. Even for significant businesses and prestigious limousine hire companies. these are prices that will cause anyone to blink when reading those ads.
True, there are more modest cars around too. That’s great news, but then things start getting complicated in terms of battery ‘issues’ (leased, owned, life expectancy, swap-over periods) and so on. Some commentators have observed that a doctorate in mathematics must try and work out. just how much the ‘bottom line’ is. Suddenly, a smaller car isn’t looking quite as ‘small’ in price terms when you get there.
For much of the mass market, performance is a secondary issue. Yes, you can drool over the Tesla-S and other such prestigious marques that can reach 60mph before. you’ve even got into the car. However, in reality, such performance is entirely irrelevant in most driving environments, which are urban or suburban.
Joe public might enthuse over the performance figures of a Ferrari. that doesn’t mean they’re going (or be able) to buy one.
What the typical purchaser wants to know in electric car performance terms is:
- Will this vehicle tackle steep hills?
- How will it handle gridlocked traffic jams in terms of power consumption?
- What’s its range before needing a recharge?
- How long will it take to recharge?
Now surprisingly, although these questions aren’t exactly rocket science, firm figures aren’t easy to come by when looking at many electric car ads. Things start to sound an awful lot like the ‘old days’ for electric vehicles when you do see them.
Whole tables of data start to appear. For example, figures which say the range of a car before recharge is 250 miles/ 400kms might not sound too impressive. They certainly sound a lossless remarkable again (bordering scary). when little caveats are attached, saying things like “maybe less in winter.” Many ordinary buyers will want to leave home in bad weather knowing they’ll get there – not departing on a “let’s wait and see what happens” basis.
Far too many electric vehicle figures are fluid bordering ethereal, and there are just too many qualifiers. Another example is recharge times, which often cite a multiplicity of options depending on your power source. Some seem reasonable at say 3 hours, but then you realize you don’t know what the special recharger referred to is. Others sound comically unrealistic such as “21 hours out of a normal plug socket“.
Try explaining to your boss that you’ll be late tomorrow because your car will be charging!
A final observation relating to mass electric car take-up inhibitors is that some of the advertising web sites are near incomprehensible.
The typical new car mass-market buyer wants to see the same options that state “Model X = $.” Sure, we all understand that some things are configurable such as engine size, colour scheme, so on – plus, they will all have price implications.
People probably don’t want to think that when they go along to their showroom, they’ll need to take a QC, Engineer, Statistician, and Accountant to interpret all the various options surrounding batteries, performance variables, recharge rates, so on.
Until electric vehicles become cheaper, advertising and pricing are more comfortable to understand. Above all, their recharge rates improved. take-up them is likely to be limited to niche market segments.