The Christmas break was a slow news time for the auto industry, but the Washington Post did publish a worthwhile article about electric vehicles.
In the article, auto executives sounded less than thrilled with the prospects of pure electrics. Jim O’Donnell, chairman and chief executive of BMW North America, said, “I would argue that the case for the electric car is not proven. We’re not quite sure people are willing to go for it. We’re asking consumers to pay more and get less. Our view is: Proceed with caution.”
Similarly, GM chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. sounded as if he viewed electric cars in the same vein as root canals: “I know we have to have an electric car,” he said.
The newspaper cited new EV owners who are struggling with the lack of range and the long recharge times. One owner of BMW’s Mini E complained that his car didn’t reach its estimated range of 100 miles when he drove in cold weather, resulting in it having to be towed after 87.9 miles.
The most intriguing part of the Post’s article, however, may have been the reader comments. The majority of those who weighed in took the opportunity to criticize electric vehicles for everything from short range and high cost to creating toxic waste and fostering a need for more powerplants.
University of Michigan lecturer John DeCicco summed it up best, however, when he compared today’s EV market to the EV market of the 1990s. “What they were saying about electric vehicles then is about what they’re saying now,” he explained. “They were banking on battery breakthroughs then. They’re still banking on them.”