Will consumers ever get over the stigma of electric vehicle market failures in the past?
Many people will be surprised to learn that electric vehicles have been around in some shape or form for nearly 200 years although they have yet to really break into the mass market. There have been numerous attempts by numerous companies the most famous being the General Motors EV1 which still to this day attracts intrigue despite the fact it has certainly been assigned to the electric vehicle dustbin.
Why have electric vehicles yet to succeed in the mass market?
If you ask 20 different people about any reasons why the electric vehicle of today has yet to make it into the mainstream automotive industry you are likely get a variety of different answers. The truth is that there have been so many rumours and mistruths associated with the electric vehicle market that it is sometimes difficult to disseminate the rumours from reality. However, what is clear is that the General Motors EV1 episode had a more detrimental impact upon the image of electric vehicles than any other failed launch or failed public relations campaign since then.
Will I be at the beck and call of electric vehicle manufacturers?
One problem which dates back to the General Motors EV1 debacle is the fact that the company refused out right to sell EV1 vehicles and instead went down the road of leasing them to motorists. In many ways this did put historic electric vehicle enthusiasts at the beck and call of General Motors, and other electric vehicle manufacturers in the late 1990s, thereby reducing confidence going forward. Indeed at the turn of the century General Motors decided to stop producing the EV1 and reneged on a previous promise not to recall the leased vehicles – all EV1s were recalled and destroyed, end of story!
To recap on the rumours surrounding the General Motors EV1, many people believe that the project failed because:
- General Motors was losing money on each vehicle due to production costs
- Oil companies were putting pressure on the US government to reduce electric car quotas
- There were little in the way of actual savings for consumers therefore little interest from motorists – a suggestion somewhat reduced in strength amid rumours that General Motors was turning down potential customers at the time
- The technology associated with electric vehicles and in particular battery capacity was not sufficiently developed to make the EV1 sustainable as a commercial venture
- There were also unsubstantiated rumours that General Motors was looking to kill the electric vehicle market for the foreseeable future
The mystery surrounding the General Motors EV1 project continues to roll on today and is likely to be mentioned time and time again in the future. The company has been unwilling or unable to explain in any detail why the venture failed and previous governments have refuted allegations of political meddling.
The reality today is that you are able to purchase out right an array of electric vehicles therefore reducing the control which automobile manufacturers have had in the past. However, you will still be dependent upon the actual manufacturer to make and supply spare parts which may be required going forward. This market may expand and change dramatically, as it has with traditional fuel vehicles, in years to come but at this moment in time it is not large enough for other companies to become involved in.
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