Ford, Nissan, Honda, and Fiat have cut prices on their pure electric cars, and Chevy has shaved the sticker on its Volt plug-in hybrid. Now the auto industry will hold its collective breath and see what happens.
"The automakers are certainly keeping a close eye on this," Dave Hurst, senior analyst for Navigant Research, told us.
Last week, Ford slashed the price for its Focus EV by $4,000 to $35,995. This followed similar moves involving the Nissan Leaf ($6,400 price cut), Honda Fit (new lease rate of $259 a month), and Chevy Volt ($5,000 in incentives). Fiat is offering a rebate of up to $2,000 rebate for its 500e, along with 12 days of free annual access to a gasoline rental car.
The question is when EVs will begin to look like a good buy. To some degree, that's already starting to happen. In the first six months of 2013, Nissan Leaf Sales more than tripled from the first half of last year to 9,839. Chevy Volt sales rose 11.8 percent to 9,855.
Ford hopes to do the same for the Focus EV. Reuters reported that the company has built 2,517 Focus EVs and sold 1,593, including about 900 in the first half of 2013.
"Ford is finally recognizing that $40,000 for a Focus is a hefty price, even if it doesn't use any gasoline," Hurst told us.
Still, when government incentives are figured in, the costs are becoming tougher to pass up. A Wall Street Journal article in May discussed a suburban Atlanta man whose cost for a Nissan Leaf could be construed as less than $0. After signing up for a 24-month discounted lease, he got a $7,500 federal incentive and a $5,000 Georgia state subsidy -- to go with about $2,400 a year in gasoline savings. "Suddenly, the car puts $2,000 in my pocket," he told the WSJ.
It's not clear how long such incentives will remain in place or whether auto companies can afford more cuts. At this spring's Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said his company loses about $10,000 on every Fiat 500e it sells.
Experts say the incentives will help sell the cars for now. "The price cuts won't be enough to create a huge boost in sales," Hurst said. "But we're definitely going to see a bump up."
What would it take to put you in an electric car? If the prices were comparable with those for gasoline-based vehicles, would you make the jump? Tell us in the comment section below.
I'm really not sure that they could sell me an EV. I love technology, but to pay that much for a range limited vehicle is just silly in my opinion.
I have a short commute, so I suppose I could use an EV for a commuter car, but I can't imagine it being cost effective for me to buy a dedicated vehicle just for my short commute. Even when my commute was longer, the cost to purchase a more fuel efficient car just didn't add up for me.
Before considering buying an EV, heres another question to answer - would you be willing to give up your gas-guzzling SUV/truck/super-sized saloon and drive a conventional, 1.6 liter, 100hp Fiat 500 or Ford Focus ? If your asnwer is "no", despite the obvious savings in fuel, then you are not ready for the EV market. EU residents who drive smaller, fuel efficient cars on a regular basis and would not be seen dead in a Ford F350 are exempt from answering.
Jerry, you are on the vanguard of the economics-driven argument, and Elizabeth is on the vanguard of the environmental one. Transportation in the US is a complex problem of economic, social, and environmental issues largely driven by the infrastructure built up over time to support it. Recall that it was 1999 when Honda introduced the first US hybrid, the Insight. That provoked all kinds of discussions about how impractical it was, and how hybrids would never be a viable alternative to IC cars. Now we have moved past hybrids, and the same discussion is happening around EVs. People can have difficulty seeing how the future can be different from the present sometimes, but I think the forces at work are all going in your direction. Time will tell.
"If the prices were comparable with those for gasoline-based vehicles, would you make the jump? "
Oh yea. And I did. And I wasn't planning on it. No more oil changes, catalytic converters, spark plugs, motor starters, maintenance schedules, etc., I went with the Mitsibushi iMiev. It's $30K. Until July 31st they're knocking off $10K (so it's $20K). And then the Feds give you a $7500 tax credit. That puts it at the cheap gas car price. From plug to wheels I consume about 250W/mile on average. So this electric car is way cheaper to drive than gas. I get about 75 miles/charge in the summer. I do have a Prius for those cross-country trips. I'm ending up putting more miles per month on my iMiev anyway. It also helped that Mitsubishi offers a 100,000 mile battery warranty. Driving all electric is extremely addictive.
BTW, I'm not a green lover. I just love the cost savings and never stopping at a gas station again. People may be surprised how their commuter car collects more miles than their cross-country cars.
This article mentioned the Volt, which does not suffer from the "limited range" problem. It can use gasoline to drive a generator, and it uses that electricity to maintain battery charge.
I really considered a Volt. I wanted a Volt. Whan the time came to buy a car, the Chevy Cruze was half the price of a Volt: about 19K instead of 38K. So, based on personal experience, I can say that an extra $19,000 dollars was too much.
if the Volt had been $25K I would almost certainly have bought a Volt instead of a Cruze. $28K? Still possibliy, would have to discuss it with my wife. Higher than $30K? extra cost over $10,000 to get a car with one less seat (due to the battery hump)? Too much.
So the lower price with incentives, now bring it into possibly acceptable price range.
Fiat's got what may be the most revealing plan -- buy one of their EVs and get up to twelve days' use of a real car. The bottom line has to be, would you buy a car offering similar performance if it were NOT an EV?
Both the economic and the environmental arguments break down under even slight examination. Environmentally, the electricity which powers an EV doesn't come out of thin air; unless your power comes from a nuclear or solar plant*, every mile you drive creates air and water pollution somewhere. There's a reason EV's are called "Coal-Powered Cars." The economic arguments fall flat as new tax schemes such as "Well-To-Wheel" (WTW) and EV Road Taxes come on line, removing any cost savings expected from abandoning gasoline. Tax subsidies -- A.K.A. "making your neighbors help pay for your car" -- have been attractive to those who don't mind looting the public treasury, but those programs are (thankfully!) winding down.
So the real question is: would you accept the inconvenience, miniscule range, and discomfort of that car if it weren't an EV? If so, great! Buy it -- it's your right -- but please be sure to turn down any government incentives if you have a shred of honor. And if not, well, that's great too: you'll be amazed at how good some of today's cars are, including many of the hybrids.
* Even if you have access to "clean" solar energy, the production of those solar cells is poisoning soil, water and air in China and elsewhere, and nuclear shares some of those problems. Wind is a dead end with its own severe environmental problems.
Mr. Dycus and I are on the same page with regards to these riduculously heavy, overly complex and commensurately expensive EV's that are being offered by the major players. Possibly it is because nearly everything these manufacturers offer is overly complex and commensurately expensive - that's all they know how to build, or at least they believe that's all they can offer and make a worthwhile profit on. They're building to the market and it's probably a fair statement that if they offered a spartan EV with bench seats, crank windows and no A/C it would be a colossal flop irrespective of fuel type.
I have a battery EV and when you have an EV, you don't need a second car - it *is* the second car. In that role, it's actually very useful and in some cases fun and convenient. Because you know you're not going on a cross country trip in it, the range issue is nearly irrelvant. You fuel it at home, and it's always 100% ready to go when you leave. Plugging it in to charge for the night is no different than topping off your cell phone. In my mind an EV as a second car can be every bit as functional as its' ICE counterpart. But that's about as good as it gets, meaning if equivalent is the best it can do, then for sure it should not cost any more either. Otherwise, where's the value? Saving the planet? Not for most people. If you're driving *any* kind of car thinking it's "green", you're somewhere in the range between ignorant and idiot.
Unless you have very limited driving requirements a contemporary EV will only be good as a second car. As such, that's all it's ever going to be worth. Not hard to justify a nominal expense on such a vehicle, as this expense would happen irrespective of the vehicle fuel source. It would be safe to say not many people would want to spend more on a second car as they do their primary/trip car. As it stands today, that pricing is upside down. From my perspective as a long time EV owner there's no way in hell I'd spend upwards of a mortgage payment on a car I only drive to work and back in, and do errands on weekends. Deduct for the range limit and guaranteed eventual pack replacement/devaluation and in my mind that price point must be put under that of a similarly featured ICE vehicle. I'm here to tell you that after the novelty of charging your car instead of putting gas in it wears off, the cost to own and operate it will still be there.
I can't afford a "luxury" EV anymore than a "luxury" ICE. But I can afford a "working man's" ICE. There are no "working man's" EV's. Until that happens, no factory built EV's for me.
I think the current EVs are still rather stupid cars for the average person. And the idea that I have to pay a subsidy for a car I can't even afford in the first place. Just like the Cash for Clunkers, I am paying a subsidy so people who can already afford the car are getting 7500 off the price.
Once again the market is telling us athere is a problem with these vehicles as a vehicle for everyone, and we try to deny this by fiddling with the marketplace to help people who can already afford the car to buy it.
Most electric vehicles won't get people to work and home in 1 charge. So should every employer be forced to add to their cost bey putting charging station in every parking space? Another tax on employers?
Same problem exists now that existed with the GM electric car - "Who Killed the Electric Car?" They are practical only under a very narrow set of constraints, and not many people live lives that fit within those constraints.
Tesla - WOW! $80 battery swap to go another 150 miles. I can go 480 miles for the same cost now. Where's the benefit? Or should we just run the cost of gasoline up so it forces people to buy a car they can't afford? Engineers and suchare in the upper middle class *or at least some of us are) and these cost numbers might not look all that bad. But there are a lot of people that are making way less and these prices are absurd.
Some cars are more reliable than others, but even the vehicles at the bottom of this year’s Consumer Reports reliability survey are vastly better than those of 20 years ago in the key areas of powertrain and hardware, experts said this week.
As it does every year, Consumers Union recently surveyed its members on the reliability of their vehicles. This year, it collected data on approximately 1.1 million cars and trucks, categorizing the members’ likes and dislikes, not only of their vehicles, but of the vehicle sub-systems, as well.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.