Electric vehicles should be the present, why aren't they?
It's no secret that eventually we're going to have to move to electric cars, or an alternative fuel source. Hybrid vehicles are a stop gap solution, but fully electric vehicles are still having a difficult time breaking into the mainstream. Today I want to examine why that is.
There are numerous advantages to electric vehicles besides moving off of fossil fuel. They have instant torque, they run quieter, and they require minimal maintenance compared with a conventional combustion powered vehicle. Despite all of these practical advantages, electric options still aren't plentiful and popular in the marketplace.
So, why is that? Why are consumers not propelling this side of the market forward faster?
Frankly, there's a handful of reasons that manufacturers haven't fully addressed yet, so let's go over them.
This is probably the #1 item people will cite when asked why they haven't gone electric. Because of the relative infancy of the technology, electric models are still seen as too expensive. Mainstream models like the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and the upcoming base model Tesla Model 3 ($35 000 US Version) are trying to change that, but still priced over the average vehicle, and aren't as well equipped as similarly priced conventional vehicles.
Manufacturers need to start equipping these vehicles like their similarly priced traditional rivals. This means better quality materials used in the interior, and better technology and entertainment options.
This is easily the #2 item frequently cited. We're all used to using our cars however and whenever we feel like it. Having a car means personal freedom. You can drive to your heart's content, stop at a gas station, fill up in 10 minutes, and keep on going. Currently most electric vehicles have at least a 150km range with some having upwards of 400km. Manufacturers are still limited by battery capacity technology, cost, and an ineffective recharging grid.
While you can find a gas station pretty much anywhere, the same can't be said of charging stations. Especially lacking in urban areas, where people have to street park and won't have the ability to install a fast charger at home, investment is desperately needed in charging solutions so that people in the areas that could make the best use of electric vehicles actually have a way to use them.
Improving the charging networks will also help people be more confident in having one replace their current vehicle. Frankly, manufacturers and governing bodies alike need to look into developing widespread charging access if there's going to be any hope for electrification to go widespread.
Lack of SUV/Crossover/AWD Options
We've seen the current trend of crossovers lately taking the market by storm. So, why is there only 1 electric vehicle that could be classed as a crossover? The Tesla Model X is the only crossover style electric vehicle currently available, but it starts at $116 000 CDN, approximately triple what the average new vehicle sells for. Tesla models are currently the only models available with AWD also.
So the largest growing segment in vehicle sales is left completely unattended to. Combine that with the fact that a significant part of the population is shopping for AWD, and you have another point of disinterest. A startup named Rivian recently announced plans for an electric pickup truck, but whether or not it evens makes it to production remains to be seen.
This last point may be the most controversial of them all. With the exception of Teslas, electric cars aren't sexy. Sure, there are a handful of 1 model car companies with 6 and 7 figure price tags that have made 6 cars that look nice, but other than Tesla, no one has produced a mainstream car that's good looking.
I've talked about it before, but people buy with their eyes. The reason the Buick Rendezvous sold and the Pontiac Aztec didn't was because of its' looks. Take a peek at mainstream offerings like the Nissan Leaf (the 2018 model has come a long way), Chevrolet Bolt, & BMW i3, and you'll see they're a mix of wind tunnel based aerodynamics, bug like features, and plastered with gaudy badges don't scream sex appeal. Seeing badges on a vehicle that say zero emissions is the 2018 equivalent of the electronic fuel injection badges companies plastered on cars in the 80s, it just looks tacky.
Of all companies, Jaguar may end up being in a fortuitous position with it's recently launched iPace crossover. It's very good looking, comes from a mainstream brand, and seems to have an interior that isn't littered with lightning bolts everywhere.
Now if only a mainstream brand could produce something good looking, at a decent price, and with AWD. I'd love to see something akin to a Mazda CX-5 with an electric power plant. Price it around $40-45 000 CDN, and give it a 400km range, and I think we'd have a hit on our hands.
I wonder how long we have to wait until that happens?