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The Latest on Eco Cars – Hybrids and Electric

In the past month, we’ve covered several developments in the eco car market.  There has been positive news like Tesla’s rollout of super fast EV chargers and some more negative like Toyota’s cutting of sales forecasts for the eQ and their dropping plans for a new electric model.

Toyota Scion iQMichael Gil / CC BY 2.0

Toyota’s reasoning that “current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs” seems to be backed up today by Toyota dealers.  In an AutoRetailNet survey, dealers are showing strong confidence in Hybrid technology and 85% of them feel cutting the electric only Scion iQ was the correct decision.  Toyota has plans for 21 gas-electric models to be on-line by 2015 and continues to develop eco friendly cars but their decision (and their dealers’ attitudes) has to be a dent for electric cars.

Yesterday, Honda announced that their worldwide sales of hybrids surpassed 1 million units in September 2012.  At the same time, Bloomberg reports that Chrysler have opened dealer orders for a Natural Gas version of the Ram pickup.  Not everyone wants to drive a small, quiet car.  Not everyone is interested in the compromises of limited range.  So, electric cars are not going to be for everyone.  Not right now at least.

Declaring the death of electric cars though is premature.  Yesterday, John Voelcker, in Green Car Reports launched a spirited attack on those branding electric cars a failure.  He points out that such commentary lacks an understanding of how the auto industry works.  Electric cars are very early in their development.  Batteries are getting lighter, ranges for electric cars are increasing and gas prices are getting higher.  Just last week we reported that gas prices and incentives are boosting EV sales in California.  Voelcker concedes that, although growing, electric car sales will remain a small proportion of the overall market this decade.  He asks commentators to look 15 years out and see if that might improve their perspective.

We’ll continue to watch the growth of the eco friendly car market with interest.  For now it seems reports of the death of electric cars are greatly exaggerated.

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