EVs Chicken-and-Egg Problem Gets Worse, For Now

Portland General Electric/CC BY-ND 2.0

In a recent survey of 1,000 Americans, Pike Research found that the number of consumers "extremely interested" in purchasing an EV (plug-in electric vehicle) has dropped from 40% (2011) to 36% now. Meanwhile, it seems fairly certain that the U.S. won't meet its stated goal of getting 1 million EVs onto its roads by 2015, as promised. And Pike says just 200,000 electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) units will be sold globally this year, while plug-in electric sales are expected to reach 48,000 (total U.S.) by the end of the year. The research group adds that manufacturers need to work harder to educate consumers, and make electric cars seem more desirable.

And yet, Pike is predicting that good things are still to come - that EV demand will get stronger, growth will average 30% over the next decade, and that Ford, while a late entrant in the EV market, will continue to make strides, passing Nissan and Toyota to be the strongest player in the U.S.

Perhaps Pike is taking comfort from the Norwegian story - in Norway, electric cars now make up about six percent of the car fleet (doesn't sound like much, but in every other European country the percentage is far below one percent). Though their cars' ranges isn't enough in most cases to get them from the city out to their country cottages, Norwegians seem to be buying EVs because of the city perks: they dont have to pay congestion taxes, they can drive their PEVs in the bus lanes, and they get free city parking.

The Norwegian miracle hasn't happened anywhere else as quickly, however, and the ask of getting consumers to buy EVs and private investors to build out the necessary charging infrastructure looks a little daunting.

While Pike admits that private investors are caution as they try to find "profitable business models for operating charging networks," its analysts seem to think that the thrill the early adopters feel for their EVs will spread out into the marketplace. The market is currently dominated by a feeling of 'uncertainty'

On the other hand, Pike predicts that by 2020 almost 3 million electric vehicles will be on Europe’s roadways, with about 4 million EV charging stations installed. And though the U.S. won't make the million-EV mark by 2015, Pike says we'll get there just three years later...in 2018.

Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Transportation

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