Electric Cars Nonstarter With Consumers

The political class in Washington has decided that electric vehicles are the future of automobiles in this country.  Manufacturers are more than happy to comply, provided that the federal government lavishes taxpayer-funded subsidies on them in the form of grants to build the new vehicles and generous tax credits for purchase of the electronic wonders. Two of the latest offerings from automakers are the Chevrolet Volt, a $40,000 electric version of the Chevrolet Cruz, and the Nissan Leaf, a vehicle that will leave you stranded if your trip is much more than 100 miles.

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As Americans prepare to motor down the new blissful electric highway, the future of electric vehicles looks bright, except for one thing; the reality of electric vehicles does not meet the expectations of potential customers.

Deloitte just released a survey of 13,000 individuals in 17 countries titled “Unplugged: Electric Vehicle Realities Versus Consumer Expectations.” The results of the survey are bad news for automakers who believe that consumers will line up to purchase electric vehicles. The bottom line is that apparently customers expect more from electric vehicles than automakers are able to deliver.

Some potential buyers are willing to pay a premium, as much as $2,000, but nowhere near what automakers must recoup from equipping vehicles with new, expensive technology. The limited range of electric vehicles is also a nonstarter for motorists. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. survey respondents indicated that a range of less than 300 miles is not acceptable. A considerable gap also exists between the actual amount of time required to charge electric vehicles compared to what customers are willing to accept.

These results are bad news for the auto industry and in particular the Michigan economy. Electric vehicles may be the next Solyndra, throwing taxpayer money after a politically preferred outcome, rather than trusting the market place to consumers.