We talk about the EV’s becoming the future of the automotive world and we even see where some of the new models have reasonable driving range, but for 2015 the total sales of EV cars was less than one percent of the market. There are now 25 plug in models that you can choose from but most consumers are not ready to make the change from gasoline to electric propulsion for one simple reason; driving range. Most of these electric cars off driving ranges that wouldn’t even fill a full day of commuting, which then means we need to have either a backup gasoline engine for further driving or we need to have a way to charge the batteries quickly.
The top seller in the world so far has been the Nissan Leaf which only offers eighty miles of actual driving range on a single charge. This car sold about 90,000 units in the US and 200,000 total in the world which sounds extremely impressive, but when you consider the number of vehicles sold last year, and the fact that the company gave itself a goal of 1.5 million units by 2016 you can see how the feeling might be that EV sales are lagging behind projections.
For the upcoming model year we will see two models make their way onto the market to give us driving range of nearly 200 miles at the price of around $30,000 after the federal tax credit. These new products are the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 which will be ready to go for 2017 and so far we haven’t heard any changes that are planned for the Leaf. Even though Nissan appears to be working on longer range batteries, they are nowhere near the range numbers of 200 miles, which puts them behind in development for now.
What Nissan has presented is a new concept that is expected to have better range, but the battery announced to be in the new IDS concept is the same size that is being put in the Chevrolet Bolt which is a 60 kWh capacity battery. This indicates their understanding of how important range can be in this category, but is also a way for them to downplay its importance when it comes to EV driving. This certainly won’t play for long as the two 200 mile models creep ever closer.
Chevrolet chose the 200 mile range as a way to keep drivers from feeling they need to worry about the range left on their car. For those cars that have less than 100 miles of range from a full charge it seems many owners spend most of their time looking for that next charge and where they can plug in. While the Bolt is ready to go it will have direct completion for the Tesla Model 3 which will be similarly priced but offer a sportier build in a small sports sedan which might be enough to make it the top selling car in the category after only a few years.
BMW has weighed in on the topic stating most drivers only travel about 36 miles per day and if they want to be able to go for longer trips they should look to the i3 with the range extending gasoline engine, but then we are back in the gasoline mode, which we are trying to get away from. This makes it sound like BMW doesn’t really have a grasp of the reality desired, which is to have an EV that can handle all the driving needs of a consumer.
What will make it so we can truly enjoy an EV? Not only do we need a range that at least matches what a gasoline engine can do, we need to have a series of electric fill up stations along the way that can charge these batteries to a full charge in fifteen minutes or less. What am I suggesting? Until the EV stop and fill up along with the range can match that of a car that has a gasoline engine we are fooling ourselves if we thing EVs will be the future and take over the market. There may be some areas where an EV makes sense over a gasoline engine, but for the most part these examples are very few and far between right now.