Electric Vehicles [EV] may be doomed to boutique dealers and eccentric owners, if this pattern of manufacturers’ dropping EVs continues on its current track. Recently, Toyota released a few, maybe 100 total, of its new Scion iQ EV here in the US, only to fleets and car-sharing programs, with no further plans for a more widespread production run.
Another major automobile manufacturer with an EV program, Audi, had set for a 2013 launch the Audi R8 e-Tron. Originally shown as a concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, research and development seemed promising for the EV supercar, especially in light of an expected competitor in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive. Audi seems to be following in the same footsteps.
Audi’s new R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer, ordered a halt to the R8’s development and is currently putting the whole EV program under review, which basically means that 2013 isn’t going to happen. It also means that its entirely possible that the EV program is dead.
The problems that come up in this review are common to all EVs, vehicle range, recharging time, and battery pack costs. There are many different battery manufacturers promising the next big thing, which attacks one of these obstacles, but so far these developments are slow in coming.
The combination of these problems with public perception if forcing automakers, like Toyota and Audi, to reconsider their EV programs, which, means battery companies have nowhere to sell their batteries. Some of these have folded under the pressure.
It seems that, for now, ecology and economy are just too much at odds for automakers to make a serious attempt in their EV programs. If battery technology really improves as much as they’re expecting, then maybe in a few years we will see a truly marketable EV.