2012 sales of plug-in vehicles in the U.S. as of July 31st were 20,546, out of 8,398,746 total vehicles, under 0.25%, according to Jon LeSage’s Green Auto Market. Concerned about this figure and looking for an explanation, I called my friend Paul Scott, who sells the Nissan Leaf at a dealership in Los Angeles.
My belief is that electric vehicles need to offer a better consumer value proposition. To take the most obvious example, Ford has sold 135 units of its Focus Electric in the first seven months of this year. That’s less than one per day. Here you have a car whose only differences from the gasoline-powered version are a) that it has an electric drive train, requiring its owner to plug it in daily, and worry about running out of range, and b) a sticker price that is two-and-a-half times that of its counterpart. The two cars look identical; Ford has removed the value of letting the EV driver tell the world that he’s a responsible and caring citizen of the Earth.
How surprised can we be that the world isn’t exactly gobbling this up? This is such an obvious and dismal failure that I’ve run into cynics who think that Ford never intended for this car to succeed.
Paul disagrees with me on the value proposition; he thinks that we need better consumers – people who are willing to pay extra to drive a car that creates less impact on our planet. It’s hard to disagree with that; Americans trail far behind the Europeans, for example, in environmental sensitivity.
I suppose, like so many other things, it’s a blend. Every month, we’re gaining in terms of better and less expensive EVs, and a more eco-conscious marketplace – as well as better charging solutions. We’re getting there. But is our pace fast enough to avert the ecologic disasters that are so clearly running to meet us head on?