Second Study Attacks Practicability of Electric Cars, Plug-in Hybrids

chevy-volt-concept-07The Obama administration has big plans for electric vehicles. The administration poured $2.4 billion USD into the development of electric vehicles and battery technology in March 2009.

The $2.4 billion was taken from the $787 billion USD economic stimulus bill and provided $1.5 billion directly to automakers, $500 million for companies that build electric vehicle components, and another $400 million for research and infrastructure. This is in addition to up to a $7,500 tax credit that is available to those who purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles.

However, despite all of the money being thrown at the electric vehicle industry, the payback for consumers is continually being questioned. The latest backlash is in a new study coming from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) according to the Detroit News. The report suggest that consumers won’t see a payback for the energy/fuel savings of all-electric vehicles for roughly 15 years. The upcoming Chevrolet Volt, however, fares even worse — according to the BCG, the payback timeframe for the vehicle is a whopping 19 years.

The main reason for the disparity is battery technology. Advances in battery technology to provide greater range for vehicles have not come fast enough. Likewise, the astronomical price tag of batteries used in vehicles like the Tesla Roadster and Chevrolet Volt won’t be coming down to more acceptable levels anytime soon.

Even more troubling is BCG’s assertion that a 15-kWh battery pack which costs $16,000 today will still cost a hefty $6,000 ten years from now. BCG suggests a number of things to make electric vehicles more palatable to the U.S. consumer with two of the more outrageous options being a 210 percent increase in the gas tax or oil prices skyrocketing to $375/barrel.

And it’s not just BCG that is predicting doom and gloom for the electric vehicle industry. DailyTech reported in late December that the National Research Council (which is funded by the U.S. Energy Department) also didn’t have too many kind words to say about the feasibility of electric vehicles. In addition, the relatively small $2.4 billion that the Obama administration has already funneled into the electric vehicle market would have to be expanded to hundreds of billions of dollars for the vehicles to proliferate in the marketplace.

With both of these studies coming to the forefront within weeks of each other, it’s hard not to look back at comments Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen made in September 2009. He commented on the Volt’s high asking price, stating, “No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.”

With regards to pure electrics, he added that they are “for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are.” More recently, de Nysschen commented that “paying customers to drive your cars is not sustainable,” in reference to the aforementioned $7,500 tax credit.

Despite the controversy and negativity surrounding plug-ins and all-electrics, manufacturers are still shifting money and resources to the production of such vehicles. The Chevrolet Volt will be out later this year and Nissan is readying its all-electric Leaf for production. Toyota is working on a production version of a plug-in Prius and Tesla is speeding along with further development of its Roadster and the production version of the Model S.

The vehicles are coming and there’s no stopping them — it will just take some time to see who is “stupid” enough to buy one.


Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Cars

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.
Cars

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.
Cars

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.