Electric vehicles, if you ask the layperson (• – see note), suffer from a couple of major faults, most outstandingly affordability and range.
If we recall, back in 2012, President Barack Obama set the ambitious goal of putting one million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015. In spite of there being about twenty electric vehicle models in the US, however, there are just over a quarter-million on the road today. Clearly, Americans are far behind the one-million-electric-vehicles-by-2015 mark, in spite of the fact that some studies indicate that upwards of forty-five million American drivers could make the switch without any significant change in daily habits!
If range and affordability are still getting forty-four million Americans down, they might be interested to note that long-range affordable electric vehicles are coming, and not just from Tesla Motors. Of course, the Tesla Model 3, when it comes, is expected to top 200 miles range and cost less than $35,000, but it is going to take a while to get those prices down. The only way that Tesla is going to make it work is by getting the gigafactory up to speed, which will force prices down by sheer brute force (economy of scale), but that will not happen until 2020. Let us not forget, however, that Tesla Motors is a tiny, if wildly successful, electric vehicle maker, just shy of $30 billion net worth, and is not the only player in the game.
Take, for example, statements by a couple of the world’s biggest automakers: Volkswagen Group, worth about $97 billion, has just released the electric version of the Golf, which has an 83-mile range and is the EPA’s most efficient compact EV. Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen chief of powertrain development, says “I expect the next generation, [between] 2015 and 2017, will increase to around 185 miles, and the following step will be around 300 to 370 miles.” A slightly smaller company, at least by market share, is General Motors, whose 200+mile range electric vehicle will be based on the Sonic.
• I say “layperson,” but I probably mean “uneducated” or “unenlightened” (no offense intended). Really, even the most basic electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and the new Volkswagen e-Golf, have more than enough range for the average American to get around, and are only slightly more expensive than comparable conventional and hybrid vehicles.