Probably the biggest news from the Detroit Auto Show this week was the unveiling of a concept electric vehicle called the Chevy Bolt that is supposed to be available in 2017 for ~$30,000 and have a range of at least 200 miles. This is the biggest EV news of the year so far (okay, yes, the year has just started), but I don’t think it will be the biggest news of 2017. Still, it will be a big part of the electric vehicle pie, and that pie is going to be huge in 2017/2018. Let me explain….
Let’s start with today, and move forward from here, focused on 5 key reasons electric vehicles will see huge sales in 2–3 years.
I used to think the #1 thing that would sell electric cars would be item #2 on this list, but now I think it’s convenience. Who enjoys going to the gas station? Really, who enjoys it? A few oddballs might, but it is smelly, polluting, inconvenient, and takes a bunch of your money. If you can completely avoid that — if you can simply plug your car into the wall when you get home and unplug it when you leave again — you know you’d love it. Most electric vehicle drivers never want to go back to gas. However, I’ve run across two or three who have gone back. The immensely regretted it when they had to start going to the gas station again. But it’s not just gas stations — gasmobiles have to have tubes changed, mufflers replaced, oil changed, valves fixed, etc. Electric cars, much simpler vehicles by many standards, don’t need any of this. These massive conveniences of electric cars (and tremendous time savings) is available today, and it will still be available in a few years, of course.
It’s really hard to explain this, but let me give it a shot. When you drive an electric vehicle, you have “instant torque.” What that means to a normal person is that, when you step on the pedal, you can fly forward. Think of a golf cart and how sensitive the pedal is. Electric car manufacturers make stepping on the pedal and darting forward a smoother experience, but you still have tremendous acceleration right away, even in a cheap EV. This is fun. (Check out this video, and this one. Granted, those videos feature the mother of them all — the Tesla Model S P85D — but hopefully you get the point a bit.) I feel like I’m in a spaceship when driving an electric car. But the fun of it isn’t the biggest selling point. This instant torque makes accelerating onto a highway or into a roundabout much quicker, easier, and less stressful.
3. Money Talks
Electric cars are already cheaper than gasmobiles for many if not most people. Upfront costs are often higher than “comparable” gasmobiles (not that you can really compare the two), but it’s about 3 times more expensive to fuel up on gas than to get as much electricity to go the same distance. Many people get their money back and then start saving a ton of money after 2–5 years. However, for many, they want the straight purchase cost to be the same or lower. The big additional portion of an electric car’s cost is the battery, but that cost is coming down pretty fast. By 2017 or 2018, battery costs will be low enough that it will be downright crazy to not get an electric car instead of a gasmobile.
4. Clean Air & A Livable Climate
No one really wants to threaten the lives of their children and grandchildren by polluting the air and wrecking the climate. Electric vehicles are a great way to stop doing that… especially combined with rooftop solar power!
All of the things above are benefits of electric cars today. There are just a few reasons the masses aren’t driving electric cars. The biggest one is that most people don’t know the things above, have never driven an electric car, and probably can’t even name a single electric model. The other big thing is that many people who have heard of electric cars have been told a variety of ridiculous things to persuade them to stay away, and most frequently, that electric cars don’t have enough range for their needs. That’s nonsense ~90% of the time, but it is true that electric cars have less driving range on a full charge than gasmobiles.
5. Range To Drive Like An Outlaw
Back to the news that kicked this story off: the concept Chevy Bolt announced by GM this week would supposedly have over 200 miles of range on a full charge. That’s far more than twice the electric range of the top-selling Nissan LEAF (84 miles), and even much more than the ~30–50 miles of range a normal driver actually needs. In other words, all of those people scared away from buying an electric car wouldn’t really have anything to be scared of… well, again, they don’t know, but they’d hopefully realize that they don’t have anything to be scared of by that time!
The important thing, also, is that the Bolt won’t be the only long-range, affordable electric car on the market in 2017/2018. Tesla Motors is planning a car with similar specs for that time period, Nissan seems to be working on one that will be available then or sooner, Volkswagen has also hinted at such a car being around the corner, and presumably several other automakers have this timeframe in mind.
And, for that matter, so many electric cars of various sorts will be on the market by 2017/2018 that consumers will have a wide variety of options to fit their own specific needs and interests.
Am I optimistic about the future of EVs? Certainly! How can you not be!
Also recommended: Electric Cars Are So Much Better — Let Me Count The Ways and 4 More Benefits of Electric Cars.