Are EVs Still Viewed by the General Public as Medicine?

NOV 15 2013 BY MARK HOVIS 25

Does the general public still view EVs as something good for you?  Or are EVs looked upon like that nasty medicine that your parents “forced” upon you?

M-B Vision Golf Cart - This May be "Cool," But It's Still a Golf Cart

M-B Vision Golf Cart – This May be “Cool,” But It’s Still a Golf Cart

It has been my experience that the public views them as good, but it is also the opinion of many that it is being forced upon them like medicine often is.  This mentality primarily is in response to the EV tax credits. In one respect this could be considered true.  For most, tax subsidies are designed to either direct a certain outcome or help emerging markets, which really are the same.

I very much like our US tax credit model for EVs that have subsidies disappearing after each manufacturer reach 200,000 which is small enough to have very little tax implication overall.  I am a bit bewildered that the same folks that are upset by such subsides are not at all upset by oil and gas subsidies that still exist and have a much greater tax implication.

But back to the medicine.  At what point does the general public’s golf cart mentality end?


The Tesla Effect is Blinding

The Tesla Effect Brings “Cool” to EVs

The Tesla Effect

It is hard to deny the positive effect Tesla motors has had on the general public’s perception of EVs. The public might declare it too expensive, but they definitely do not declare Tesla as medicine.  I think when history looks back there will be no doubt to the chapter Tesla has written toward making EVs cool and right from the start.  However, $65,000 – $100,000+ EVs cannot change the market alone. Who knows what impact the Gen III will have on both the “cool factor” while remaining somewhat affordable.  Maybe EVs don’t have to do all the heavy lifting after all.




Renewables Rock!!! Unfortunately, the World Doesn't Use Enough Renewable Energy and Instead Still Relies Heavily on Fossil Fuesl

Renewables Rock!!! Unfortunately, the World Doesn’t Use Enough Renewable Energy and Instead Still Relies Heavily on Fossil Fuesl

Energy Darwinism

Energy Stoarge Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Energy Stoarge Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Power (electricity) investment accounts for 46% of the expected $37 trillion investment in global energy infrastructure to 2035.

Sometimes I simply want to declare “Renewables rock! – The End”, but we all know it is not that simple.  I found the recent article by Citigroup  titled Energy Darwinism to be quite intriguing.  Now, this 100 page study was written to energy investors, not to environmentalist. It spoke to the fact history has always chosen a primary energy source. At first it was wood, then coal, then oil, and now the golden age of natural gas. This article spoke to the potential decline of coal in China by 2020 which is encouraging, though like the US, the next few decades will be owned by gas.

But it spoke largely to the inevitability of energy storage.  For our community here we know exactly what they are talking about. The inevitable future of electricity stored in a battery means a very bright future for EVs. Moreover, if or when electricity replaces natural gas, then EVs become the  dominant solution.


At what point does it become common knowledge that the driving experience for EVs is not settling for less? One of the most powerful methods of advancing a product is word of mouth.  Early EV adopters are doing their part in this long and patient process.  There is no magic bullet that advances this overnight but certainly your voice slowly makes a difference. I have always been an EV enthusiast, though I get so wrapped up in explaining how the fueling at home is actually better than going to the pump, and how your regular service is practically not existent, comparing the EV torque cycle to an ICE and on and on, that sometimes I simply forget to tell them that it is fun! For those who truly enjoy the driving experience of any auto, you really need to spend some quality time behind the wheel of an EV. If you do, there will be no denying the experience. How many people have you introduced to EVs and what is your favorite story?

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25 Comments on "Are EVs Still Viewed by the General Public as Medicine?"

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One of the issues too is that some people are just not early adopters. They may think EVs are a good thing and wouldn’t mind driving one, but only after it is more proven technology or the bugs have been worked out. As part of our EVangelization, we need to let people who are afraid of being early adopters that there are established technologies out there that may fit their needs now, and guide them to sources of information such as this website that will let them know what is out there that will meet their comfort level and not some industries comfort level.

I’ve been trying to get some of the EV manufacturers to lay off with the “green” advertising. I liken it to trying to sell people fat-free icecream or sugar-free apple-pie. Given the choice, most people will go for the fat-full product because they know it will taste better. As such, it is better to advertise on reasons why regular people should want these cars.

As you write, Tesla has been giving EVs the mainstream chic they lacked. But much of that is a game of PR (there’s a great product behind it, but it’s still PR).

Fact of the matter, the “medicine car” Leaf is better than any mid-market ICE car on every single aspect except on range/charge. The 2013 Leaf with ChaDeMo and 6.6kW L2 takes care of the “charge” side, once enough infrastructure is available (which is already true in many places). Now all that remains is for this type of car to reach a 125-150 mile real-life range, which is arguably all that most people would envision needing on 360+ days a year.

And the Chevy Volt beats every mid-market or even upmarket ICE 4-seater out there, even now.

It really is more of a PR issue, as you write. To use a military analogy, the Leaf and Volt lay on the fence as “medicine”, and helped Tesla sail through with its clean “fun” image.

“Fact of the matter, the “medicine car” Leaf is better than any mid-market ICE car on every single aspect except on range/charge” and LOOKS. The Leaf is like caster oil for the eyes!

“[…]Power (electricity) investment accounts for 46% of the expected $37 trillion investment in global energy infrastructure to 2035.[…]” The fuel for the coming swarms of Plug In Electric Cars(1),(2),(3), is American Sourced, American Made, in unlimited supply with smart and virtual grid allocation and almost FREE! “A conservative estimate is that we have an amount of electricity unused at night that’s equal to the output of 65 to 70 nuclear power plants between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) stated before the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee. “I suspect that’s probably our greatest unused resource in the United States. If we were to use that to plug in cars and trucks at night, we could electrify 43 percent of our cars and trucks without building one new power plant.” “In the same way, we have an enormous amount of unused electricity at night. A conservative estimate is that we have an amount of energy that’s unused at night that’s equal to the output of 65 or 70 nuclear power plants between 6 pm and 6 am. I suspect that’s the greatest unused resource in the United States. And if we were to use that resource to… Read more »
” I am a bit bewildered that the same folks that are upset by such subsides are not at all upset by oil and gas subsidies that still exist and have a much greater tax implication.” Its very sad to see this standard liberal myth, with the usual lack of any proof, trotted out here in what is a generally fact based website. When pressed, the liberals typically reveal that they consider depreciation of any expenses on taxes as a “subsidy”, even though this same tax “loophole” is afforded to all businesses in the USA. What it really means is the left wants oil businesses singled out for special punishment. EVs are not rolling out on the goodness of government subsidies. Like any other business, in the end it either makes economic sense or it doesn’t. The rebates given by the states don’t come from the magic money tree, but from an added fee on car registrations. Since this is a fixed fee, and everyone with a car must pay it, and most EV buyers are upper income, this is a wealth transfer tax from the poor to the rich. These and other facts tend to evade the left, who… Read more »

The magnitude of government subsidy for our fossil fuel industry from well to wheels dwarfs the puny investments made to encourage EVs. Here are some numbers in this report from the US Treasury Department:

It’s a little dated, 2009, but gives some really big (~3 billion/year) savings proposed if fossil fuel subsidies were removed and an interesting comment that they didn’t feel removing those subsidies would have much impact on the market price or jobs while improving our government’s revenue outlook.

Do the EV subsidies nevertheless subsidize those who can afford an EV, at the expense of society as a whole? Sure. But, we have a common government that decided that the benefits of promoting EVs outweigh the costs. That’s what a common government does all the time for much bigger items that have a much more dramatic effect on our lives than electric transportation (defense and medicine, for example).

Subsidies always distort … if we could get rid of them all – it sure would be more efficient and highlight the real winners from a technological idea standpoint, not just who has the best connections and most money to influence their ability to get even more money.

Repeating the Obama administrations propaganda does not consitute proof. “The Administration proposes to repeal the following tax preferences that are currently available for both integrated and non-integrated oil and gas firms: (1) the expensing of intangible drilling costs; (2) the deduction for costs paid or incurred for any tertiary injectant used as part of a tertiary recovery method; (3) the ability to claim the domestic manufacturing deduction against income derived from the production of oil and gas. Eliminating these three tax preferences is projected to raise revenues by approximately $20.3 billion from 2010 to 2019.” The REASON for allowing companies to deduct business expenses against gross margin is because in a high cost business like oil drilling, there can be a lot of income that has to be turned around and spent for expenses. Tax the gross income as pure profit and you can rapidly put businesses out of business (but that is basically the Obama administrations goal with respect to oil companies). The Obama’s selective reading of the tax code for their own political purposes is mainly disallowed by a small roadblock known as the constitution, which generally disallows unequal treatment of taxpayers based on the idea that you… Read more »
I agree with your premise: “Tax the gross income as pure profit and you can rapidly put businesses out of business.” However, there isn’t a business on earth who wouldn’t like to include all it’s costs as expenses, not investments that must be amortized. It seems to me the fossil fuel industry has some very lax and specific rules for doing that. Besides, if the business is so cost intensive that they need these rules, isn’t that a clue to us, the taxpayers, that we’re propping up something that is alone not cost effective? The ELI did a study, at the bottom of this page they discuss the foreign tax credit as a giveaway for fossil fuel companies: The pdf on this page explains this deduction vs. credit well and why it specifically helps fossil fuel companies. And, they discuss in basic accounting terms the various subsidies available to fossil fuel companies and how they compare to subsidies for renewables (with the comment that most of renewable subsidies are actually for Ethanol … which is all but universally, by EV drivers and ecologists alike, condemned.) Anyway, I have an open mind … what sources can you give that support… Read more »

This is simply a PR battle. The compliance cars are the worst enemies of this attitude shift. Since the a CC is produced to meet government regulation demands, there has been no effort to make it look good. As a Tesla owner, I talk to a lot of people about EV. I hear the following all the time from guys: “That’s a car [the Model S] I can see myself in, the [insert compliance car name] is ugly and looks like something a wimp would drive.” Though I’ve heard less politically correct terms than “wimp” as often as not.

If there were sport versions (some are coming, I know) of the compliance cars, the public attitude would be markedly different.

I think the most of the compliance cars look fine, because they look exactly like their gasoline counterparts. And since plenty of people buy those gasoline versions, they can’t look all that bad. I personally think the Focus EV is a great looking car and ironically the only thing wrong with it is that it looks just like the gasoline version that costs half as much. I like my car to stand out as something different.


So true Philba. The pastel colored GM Sparks show that they aren’t even trying to hide that fact 😉 Truely amazing.

Amen Philba.

Outside Tesla, every EV on the market is ugly or slow or both, and that frustrating reality is a deliberate decision on the part of the manufacturers.

I consider the i3 to be the first (and so far only) exception. Sure it looks a bit weird (especially by BMW standards), but at least it’s not ugly. And it’s fast. And it’s RWD. And it’s innovative (carbon fiber, etc). And it’s half the price of a Tesla. I have never owned a BMW, and to be honest never figured I would. But I am leaning towards an i3. It is the car I wanted GM or Ford to build.

But the compliance cars look NO Different from their ICE counter part. So, that arguement doesn’t apply.

LEAF, VOLT and i3 are NOT compliance cars. None of them are good enough to make people look at it again… Volt is at best an average. LEAF and i3 are definitely below average in the look category…

I agree that instead of “catering” to “green” or “unique” like Prius, it should go after good performance, good looks and then the EV part is just a bonus…

The Formula E should help the EV image too (along w/other EV races)

Formula E: Why You Should Be Excited About The First EV Racing Series


Maybe I’m a little OCD, but I have to point out that Formula E is far from being “The First EV Racing Series.” Formula Lightning is just one of several examples I could name (and I name it here because Kettering University was one of the core group of competitors).

Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it: From an “EV image” standpoint, Formula Lightning’s battery swaps were a disaster. Formula E’s planned car swaps will be far worse.

What do you suggest?

To project the EV image in a more positive light, run meaningful race distances on a single charge. I suggest 100 km or one hour, whichever comes first, to be increased if speeds rise to the point where safety becomes a major issue. The competitive Formula Lightnings carried 600+ kg of Pb-acid batteries (mostly Optima Red Tops, some Hawkers), and could easily have run 100 km races at significant speeds. But the rules allowed battery exchanges, and teams got to the point where it took 12 seconds from the time the wheels stopped turning until they started again. Total race time was typically minimized (average race speed maximized) by running 12-15 km between pit stops, which strongly reinforced spectator prejudices that EVs lack adequate range. A single-charge format would also push vehicle development in a direction more closely aligned with what’s useful on the street. We used regen only to simulate compression braking, so that our drivers (many of them Indy 500 veterans, SCCA National champions, and the like) wouldn’t have to adapt their driving to the cars. And we spent far more engineering time fixing cooling problems brought on by the high power levels than we did on efficiency… Read more »

It’s not a matter of if you drive an EV, but, how much of your car is EV. Every manufacturer is using EV technology to get their MPG numbers higher. Yeah, it may be simple start/stop now, but, to do that you need an electric A/C unit. Nobody will buy a car that turns off the climate control at red lights!

Once manufacturers get more of this tech into their pipelines, it’s a matter of less gas and more EV. All cars will eventually have some sort of helper motor or even be able to drive fully on electrons for a short time. The superior power available will make 12v give way to 300+volt accessories. Even pickup owners will be good with having on-board outlets to use power tools directly.

Once people grasp that driving on electrons is superior in almost every way to driving on a stinky and shaky old gas engine, they will start demanding more. Witness PiP and Volt owners pushing for more AER.

We are in the baby-step phase. EVs are not going away this time.

Hey wait a minute – I bought a car that turns off the A/C at a stoplight! My 2010 Honda Insight turns off the A/C compressor when the engine stops. It uses a magical device known as a thermostat to determine whether A/C is needed. On a hot day, the engine will restart at the light to run the compressor.

I think they’d knock the voltage down for accessories. DC-DC transformer.

i never use my AC in my ED

From an environmental perspective, we briefly reached 400ppm of atmospheric CO2 last May (see Keeling Curve data). 350ppm is considered a level beyond which damage to the planet is significant…that was first recorded 27 years ago. Keeling started accumulating measurements in 1958 and in the last 55 years, a nanosecond in geologic time, CO2 has risen about 27%! Waiting for governments to enact solutions is not working fast enough. In the last year or so driving an electric car powered by my own solar panel electricity, I’ve reduced my CO2 emissions by 10,000 lbs. Oh, and yes, the car is a blast to drive.