Many car manufacturers are increasing their efforts to manufacture electric and hybrid cars in a bid to promote eco-friendly driving and tackle global warming. However, it seems they are still pessimistic about the feasibility of their success.
A collection of executives from the motor industry got together at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, where the idea of electric cars becoming affordable for consumers was not a popular one. They predicted that high cost of manufacturing and long payback periods will prevent eco-cars from taking a decent share of the market for at least the next 10 years.
Joseph Bakaj, Vice President for Powertrain Engineering at Ford Motor Co., said that driving range and longevity of payback could still be a problem by 2025.
While most consumers would agree that electric and hybrid cars are a more beneficial choice for our environment, many will not be willing to give up some of the superior features of traditional cars, such as speed, power and convenience. That, coupled with the large price difference, makes it very difficult to convince consumers on a large scale to convert to electric vehicles. Quite simply, eco-cars just cannot currently compete with traditional ones.
Despite all these concerns, a number of manufacturers are determined to make their electric models successful, investing large amounts of money and research in doing so. For example, Nissan is making 150,000 electric cars a year from its factory in Tennessee.
The worldwide auto industry is in under government pressure to reduce its adverse effect on the environment, specifically carbon-dioxide emissions. These emissions can be dramatically reduced or even eradicated by the use of electric technology but, in order for this to happen, eco-cars need to be a more enticing and available option for consumers.
There has been high interest in the forthcoming S Electric and Model X Electric from Tesla, which shows that there are consumers out there who are willing to convert to eco-cars. However, high pricing will inevitably mean that these models won’t be ideal for everyone.
President Obama has stated that he wants to see one million electric and hybrid cars on the road in three years’ time. He’s also offered money to 48 projects to boost the development of electric vehicles and batteries. This shows how committed the American government is to the future of eco-cars. In the UK this is similar with grants available to put towards Electric Cars.
Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive are just some of the electric car manufacturers to have benefitted from the Obama administration. However, the SAE conference gave little mention of this, choosing to focus on how to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines.
The Obama administration also aims to almost double the average mileage of traditional cars and trucks by 2025. According to Robert Bienenfeld, Senior Manager for Environment and Energy Strategy at Honda, even by this time it could still take 10 years for a customer to payback the costs of buying a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
The popular Toyota Prius is the most successful hybrid car on the market. Even so, the market share is only 2.5-3 per cent, which just about sums up the current market position of eco-cars.