Electric Cars Contagious?


BMW i3 charging

BMW i3 Charging

Just like any other product, once electric cars become less “weird” and are more commonly seen and understood, sales will inevitably pick up. If people drive by charging stations, see EVs at work, see EVs and chargers at local businesses, and especially see the vehicles in their own neighborhood, they are more likely to be interested in buying one.

Chevy Bolt Charging

Chevy Bolt Charging

This concept has been proven all too many times and there is data to support it. When a home has rooftop solar panels installed, chances are, other homes in the area will eventually have them too. The U.S. Department of Energy has shown that when employers add charging stations for employees, those employees are twenty times more to likely purchase an EV. If you give a mouse a cookie …

Anyway, Vox Technology shed some light on Christopher Mills’ recent post in The Wall Street Journal:  “Why Electric Cars Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think.”

Mills points out the obvious factors that will influence the upward growth of EVs. The two primary points are, reduced cost and increased range. Both are contingent on battery technology, which is progressing rapidly.

Even possibly more persuasive though is the “everybody’s doing it” mentality. Some people prioritize keeping up with the Joneses. Others just need an opportunity to talk with a neighbor or co-worker to increase their understanding and comfort level. It has been found that dealerships need to get on board as well.

A California environmental group known as The Sierra Club performed a recent study with enlightening results. Members visited over 300 dealerships nationwide in an attempt to check out EV purchasing. Below is what they found out (all dealerships visited had at least one EV on site and were authorized to sell EVs):

  • 42% of the dealerships did not have an EV prominently displayed
  • 14% of dealerships didn’t have an electric car charged and ready to test drive
  • 33% of dealerships didn’t mention federal and state tax incentives to the interested EV buyer
  • Only half of the salespeople explained charging

Based on the Club’s findings, an attempt to educate dealerships took place. Simply making EVs more visible, providing EVs on the lot, ready for test drives, and certifying salespeople to explain the vehicles, charging, and incentives, would make a monumental difference.

Again, most people aren’t really heading to dealerships in search of EVs … yet. But the data shows that they will be soon enough, as prices continue to drop, range increases, EVs become more “normal”, and their neighbors, friends, and family start owning the vehicles. Dealerships need to be prepared now, because sales are up and the time is coming, sooner than later.

Source: Vox, The Wall Street Journal

Categories: General


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42 Comments on "Electric Cars Contagious?"

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True: seeing more EVs around the neighbourhood promotes them. But in my experience nothing promotes them better as letting people drive in an EV. Don’t just take them with you, let them drive themselves. Since EVs are better on nearly every level and you can feel and hear it as soon as you start driving, people are “getting it” even without too much information and education.

Therefore my message to dealerships is: don’t only show them, but offer them for a ride. If you offer them during a whole day, you don’t need much more work to sell them!

One Way to get people at least a bit familiar with EV’s while getting Paid – is to Join UBEr or Lyft, after you have your EV – https://medium.com/@SteveSasman/how-i-used-abused-my-tesla-what-a-tesla-looks-like-after-100-000-miles-a-48-state-road-trip-6b6ae66b3c10#.u1zyv2ncv

That will wet their interest, and make them ready to search for places to Test Drive them.

Make a relationship with a few dealers, and offer to send them Potential Buyers, if they will support the EV’s they DO Sell, by Keeping them Topped of to at least 80%, have them on Display, and not try to move them to an ICE Vehicle if they ask about the EV’s!

I had one of my EV Fest Exhibitors, who at the time owned an iMiEV, who was considered the ‘Go To Guy’ for the Dealer, and even for Mitsubishi Canada – as their EV Ambassador!

He even came up from Hamilton to Toronto, and took me for a drive on one of my (at the time) typical Routes, to show me the iMiEV – could easily get that job done all electric! Not only that – for the 55 Kms we drove on the Odometer, the Range was only dropped by 45 Kms (Due to the Regen function!)

I agree that driving an EV is how you fall in love with it. I tried to encourage a number of people to drive our Volts. Unfortunately, now that the Model X is in the garage, I can’t say I am comfortable with letting other people drive it. Besides its value in case of damage, the car is far enough different than conventional cars that the newbie gains more anxiety than anything else. For example, the hold mode for the brake, the lack of creep, the VERY adept accelerator pedal. It took quite awhile before my anxiety level toned down while driving it myself…and auto pilot is a whole ‘nother item itself. I don’t know if others feel the same about their Teslas, but I expect that most who end up with a Tesla (at least at this point) made up their minds without a friend or relative giving them time behind the wheel.

I test drove a Nissian Leaf a while back and it had the ride and feel of a 1995 Cadillac which was the best car I have ever owned.

I would say a EV has a very easy time getting up to freeway speeds.

Exactly right

This is exactly what executives at GM / ExxonMobile feared, back when they tried to crush / disable every remaining EV1 on the planet. And to be doubly sure it was dead, they sold the rights to the battery technology to an Oil Company (Texaco Ovonics)– to ensure BEVs never caught on for as long as possible.

Is there any evidence that the Auto industry is unfairly subsidizing lower prices for ICE vehicles in order to sway people from buying electric?

On another point EVs are contagious however most buyers are waiting for the 200 plus miles per charge and quicker charge times before buying.

That “Is there any evidence that the Auto industry is unfairly subsidizing lower prices for ICE vehicles in order to sway people from buying electric?” – is pretty easily seen – just by checking TV, Print, and Radio Ads! When was the last time your heard, or read, of one promoting $16,000 Off if you buy this XYZ EV this month? Yet – you hear that all the time for ICE Vehicles! That is your Clue that they ICE Vehicles are being pushed as hard and as fast as they can, since the OEM’s see the writing on the wall! Even more so when 115,000 People around the small Tesla World – line up to pay $1,000 to hold a spot for themselves – for a coming car they have not seen, and will likely have to wait – 2-3 years to get! That – Followed by about another 120,000 within a second day, and some 370,000+ total within the first month! The OEM’s would have to have their head in a Sand Bucket – not to have noticed this! Nissan – and BMW for sure noticed – they started to respond with ads about not having to wait for… Read more »

A manufacturer choosing to reduce its profit margin, even to zero, is not subsidizing. Only if they lose money are they subsidizing. So, your alleged $16,000 discount is not evidence of subsidizing. (I imagine it to be a discount on a very expensive car or truck, if it even exists.)



auto manufacturers and dealers offer big discounts on high volume automobiles. generally those “big” discounts apply to a specific stock number (in other words, if you don’t buy the particular car, you don’t get the discount). then, once they have you on the lot, and break the “bad” news to you that the stock numbered vehicle is no longer in stock, they try to sell you a car that doesn’t have the discount.

There doesn’t seem to be any logic or reason in claiming that gasmobile makers offering exactly the same types of deals that they did years ago, are now suddenly motivated by antagonism/fear of PEVs (Plug-in EVs).

Offering those deals is called “competition”. And right now, aside from the Model S in its market niche, gasmobiles are getting very little competition from PEVs. 1% of the North American market, and at most 2-4% of the market elsewhere, isn’t keeping a lot of auto maker execs up at night!

Would this apply?

Enacted in 1890, the Sherman Act is among our country’s most important and enduring pieces of economic legislation. The Sherman Act prohibits any agreement among competitors to fix prices, rig bids, or engage in other anticompetitive activity. Criminal prosecution of Sherman Act violations is the responsibility of the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Violation of the Sherman Act is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10 million for corporations, and a fine of up to $350,000 or 3 years imprisonment (or both) for individuals, if the offense was committed before June 22, 2004. If the offense was committed on or after June 22, 2004, the maximum Sherman Act fine is $100 million for corporations and $1 million for individuals, and the maximum Sherman Act jail sentence is 10 years. Under some circumstances, the maximum potential fine may be increased above the Sherman Act maximums to twice the gain or loss involved. In addition, collusion among competitors may constitute violations of the mail or wire fraud statute, the false statements statute, or other federal felony statutes, all of which the Antitrust Division prosecutes.

there is NOTHING here to suggest that the sherman act has ANY applicability here.

All it takes is one e-mail saying the wrong thing from auto execs and there lies a possible way in for for defence of Tesla direct sales….and you can bet auto execs have said something over the past 8 years.

The new car market, in most if not all countries, is fiercely competitive. Suggesting that GM, Ford, and Chrysler — or any other group of auto makers — are cooperating to artificially inflate prices, is ridiculous. Big Oil companies? Yes. Breakfast cereal companies? Obviously. But not auto makers.

Now, there might (or might not) be a case to be made for applicability of the Sherman Act in the situation of various State dealership associations trying to ban Tesla from selling cars from Tesla stores.

The US gas subsidies are the big advantages. Start lowering or eliminating that and we see the advantage shift drastically.

Our current prices are fake as hell.

The “everybody’s doing it” milestone is important, but IME that point will be reached once it’s likely that a random mainstream driver (not personally an EV fan) is likely to personally know someone (friend / relative) who has one.
At that point growth will seriously accelerate, and that’s when network effects will be felt.
IMO That requires about 2-3% of cars on the road (not just marketshare that year) to be EVs, and that will take a few years yet.

Electric cars are awesome. I bought a used 2012 Nissan Leaf 6 months ago for $10k. Hardly expensive. Since that time, I have spent zero on maintenance and my power bill went up $15 / month. For all local driving in Phoenix, we use this car. If we need to drive to Texas, we use my wife’s car. In the last 6 months, I have used quick chargers only 3 times. 99% of the time I charge in my garage at 110 volts. Every morning the car is full. Here are the other benefits: 1. The Nissan Leaf rips and is faster than any gas car I have ever had. The Tesla’s are super, super-fast. 2. When I am at the drive through, I don’t spew nitrogen oxide on people like the full size diesel trucks do. 3. I can hear my self think in the electric car. It is super quiet and smooth. 4. Nissan provides a 100k warranty on the battery and will replace the battery if it degrades too fast. History says the batteries are fine. There are 2011 Leafs with over 250k miles. 5. Even in Phoenix, the battery is fine. There is even a third… Read more »

I wasn’t aware that Canada was sponsoring terrorism. I’ve always been suspicious of them, but thank you for filling in the blank there. Blame Canada!

Oil is fungible. When you buy from Canada, you might as well be buying from Saudi Arabia.

Econ 101.

Chris, how many bars and miles on 12 Leaf?

it appears that the main strategy for introduction of electric vehicles is by way of the phev, which can provide electric driving at a lower cost than is currently possible with the bev. yes, you have the extra drive train, but you can get by with a smaller battery. thus, the chevrolet volt is less expensive than the chevrolet bolt, and the volt is better suited as a car that you can own as your only car. maybe some day, the cost of batteries will drop to the point where you can get a bev with 400 miles of range at a lower cost than you can buy a phev with a total of 400 miles of range. but you would still need regulatory incentives because it is hard to see how you could get a bev with 400 miles of range that would cost less than an ice with 400 miles of range. you would also need megawatt charging stations so that people would be able to recharge as quickly as they can refill. finally, for the united states, you would have to convince people to buy smaller cars and stop driving around in huge monster vehicles that are… Read more »

“no comment” said:

“…it is hard to see how you could get a bev with 400 miles of range that would cost less than an ice with 400 miles of range.”

It’s not hard at all. All we need to do is to assume battery prices will continue to drop at a rate of about 7.5-8% per year, as they have been for the past several years, not even counting the sudden price drop from LG Chem’s new batteries.

We cannot, of course, predict the exact year when it will be cheaper for an auto maker to make a BEV than a comparable gasmobile. One of the reasons we can’t, is because the cost of BEVs is going drop in an accelerating manner. As more and more models of BEVs are put into production, the economics of scale are going to become an increasingly important factor.

But we can confidently predict that within a human generation, we will see BEVs which are priced lower than comparably equipped gasmobiles; even ones with 400 miles of range, altho personally I think 350 miles should be sufficient for most drivers.

gasoline has much higher energy density than do batteries. so even with though gasoline cars are less efficient, the gasoline car is still more economical. in addition, things don’t stay static with gasoline vehicles. gasoline vehicles get increasingly more fuel efficient.

but there are a lot of “externalities” costs that are not factored into gasoline cars. that’s why there should be carbon taxes on gasoline cars and higher taxes on gasoline. in my mind, that would be the better long term policy than subsidies to electric vehicles. but in the real world, the politics of these ideas is highly problematic.

“no comment” commented:

“…gasoline has much higher energy density than do batteries. so even with though gasoline cars are less efficient, the gasoline car is still more economical.”

Say what!?!?

The lower energy density of batteries just means the PEV’s battery pack needs to be bigger and heavier than the gasmobile’s gas tank. That has almost nothing to do with which is more “economical”. For the rest of the powertrain, aside from the battery pack or gas tank, it’s the PEV which has the considerably smaller and lighter size and weight.

And as we all know, the size and weight of batteries drops every year. That obviously won’t ever happen with gasoline! There is a great potential for increasing energy density in batteries. Gasoline and diesel? None whatsoever.

BEVs are about 3.5 times as energy efficient as an average gasmobile of comparable size. But I’m guessing you mean that the purchase price of gasmobiles is cheaper. That’s true, but less so every year, and it won’t be many years until the reverse is true. As I said: Within a human generation. Probably within 10-15 years.

the energy density advantage of gasoline has everything to do with economy. it is much easier to increase range with a gasoline powered vehicle – you just make the tank larger. in addition, you can also make the engine more fuel efficient. while the latter does require more engineering, electric vehicles also require engineering.

the other disadvantage of electric vehicles, as previously stated, is that even if you increase battery size to increase range, you also increase recharge time to a much greater extent than is the case when refill time is increased when you increase the size of a gasoline tank.

i appreciate that to the ev enthusiast, electric vehicles became superior to gasoline powered vehicles, “in every way”, when the ev1 was introduced. but that’s just ev enthusiasts, but that is a niche population that is not representative of the general public.

Conversely, nobody can improve the energy density of gasoline, and it is clear to me that the typical ICE is not capable of efficiency improvements. Moving to a hybrid model has caused some improvements, along with things like cylinders on demand and auto-stop, both of which worsen the responsiveness of the vehicle (from personal experience driving rental cars equipped with such cartoonish devices).
Put plainly, competing with the ICE is competing with a fixed upper limit of design. At no point do I expect the ICE designers to produce something that is compelling, without electrification. The micro-turbine electric generator is not an ICE because it produces electricity. I expect that to be the last petrol innovation as the era and the fuel source draw to a close in our planet’s history.

gasoline vehicles get increasingly more fuel efficient. — No Comment

Pure ICE vehicles haven’t really increased their efficient much in the last decade or so. My 1999 Ford Windstar, 2004 Ford Freestyle, and my 2013 Honda Odyssey all pretty much get the same number of miles per gallon within 1 mile per gallon difference in which I don’t see any real gas usage difference.

there is a lot of stuff that you can do on the margins that adds up. shutting down the engine on stop instead of idling is an example of an innovation that apparently has a significant impact on increasing fuel efficiency. you can also improve fuel efficiency by reducing the weight of the car. for example, engine blocks these days are significantly lighter than they have been in the past.

Couple notes for Mr. “no comment”:
1. 5 minute refueling is not necessary. 30 minutes is adequate as long as the charging is at a good place. Overnight charging will work for the high majority of the population just fine the high majority of the time, including apartment dwellers as long as they start indicating the demand.

2. Having to haul EV weight up an incline comes as a disadvantage, but regenerative braking counters that disadvantage fairly equally by recapturing that energy on the downhill. Luckily, what goes up must come down, at least here on Earth.

3. 400 mile range is extreme overkill. I am strongly convinced 200 is adequate, and 250 is adequate with a significant buffer. I just took my 100 mile range BEV on a trip 180 miles each way through Colorado mountains with my family, and only charging options enroute were L2. The stops were not bad at all and allowed us to enjoy the sights along the way and do some other activities too. If DCFC 30 minute chargers were available, it would have made the entire trip a complete piece of cake.

30 minute charging is only acceptable to ev enthusiasts. the problem is that there aren’t enough of them to constitute a viable market segment.

regenerative braking is not a 100% energy recovery. you lose more energy going up the hill than you would recover going down the hill. the net effect is that you take a range hit when the car is heavier.

Not if I’m charging at home. Which might be the preference of a great many people who don’t share your indifference to the cumulative effects of Big Oil – they simply haven’t had a meaningful way to act.

you can’t count on home charging 100% of the time. the real benefit of a 400 mile bev is that it provide you more of a buffer for you to drive more miles than you can recover in recharging. consequently, a larger battery would reduce the occasions when you would need public charging. but when you do have to use public charging, you don’t want to have to stand around for an hour.

furthermore, if you could get megawatt charging stations that could reduce recharge time to the 5-10 minute range, you (“you” meaning members of the general public, not ev enthusiasts) would be able to credibly use a bev for longer distance travel. you would still want 400+ miles of range so that people don’t have to stop to recharge more often than you would have to stop to refill a gasoline tank.

megawatt charging stations raise their own issues to be solved (such as safety issues), because you would be talking charging stations that would be delivering kilovolts to the charger head.

TimE said: “…30 minutes is adequate as long as the charging is at a good place.” Hafta agree with “no comment” on this one. The average driver isn’t going to put up with that inconvenience. Fortunately, competition is already driving down recharge time, and will continue to do so. I can’t see that market force stopping until BEVs can be recharged at, say, 300 miles of range in 10 minutes. Perhaps better, eventually. “Having to haul EV weight up an incline comes as a disadvantage, but regenerative braking counters that disadvantage fairly equally by recapturing that energy on the downhill.” It’s very far from being equal. From what I’ve read, 35% recapture from regenerative braking is better than average. “400 mile range is extreme overkill. I am strongly convinced 200 is adequate…” In just a few years, you’ll be forced to admit you were wrong, because the average range of PEVs is going to continue to rise over the next decade or two. It’s no coincidence that gasmobiles, by and large, have a minimum of 300 miles of range on a tank of gas. The idea that PEVs can fully compete when they have less than 300 miles of range,… Read more »

Seems to me this is stating the obvious. As they say: “Nothing succeeds like success.”

Also, I think it’s questionable that the EV being seen as “more normal” or less “weird” is going to cause their popularity to rise. I submit that it’s the rise in popularity that is going to cause the EV to be seen as more normal, not vice versa. Alternatively, one can look at it as a positive feedback effect.

I’m sure that back in the day, the Model T looked “weird” to a lot of people who were still riding in a horse-drawn buggy. The Model T became “normal-looking” due to its increasing commonality and widespread use, not vice versa.

I think I just caught something from this article.

You wanna make EV’s even more contagious?

Eliminate the Oil subsidies (welfare for OPEC).

Also put more L2 6.6KW – 10KW charging stations at malls up close to the front.

oil exploration subsidies are welfare to big oil companies. in any event, domestic politics so often gets in the way of good policy.

When BEV market share is 50% plus then we can say electric cars are contagious. Today electric car market share is .98% PITIFUL

Made me smile, “A California environmental group known as The Sierra Club”. Steven, what? You’d never heard of the Sierra Club? Calling the SC a California group is a little like saying “A Michigan company known as General Motors…” They’re not “known as” the Sierra Club, they ARE the Sierra Club, and while they were a California group once, they are now national, and well known enough that you may not have to attach an explanation, other than perhaps “national environmental organization”.

We won’t have a ‘tipping point’ until there are equivalent BEVs for every make and model out there.

There are ZERO BEVs available for sale in Texas. There are no ZEV credits to be had, so, nobody cares to market their cars here.

Well, Tesla cares, but, they have no clout with the Texas legislature or dealer associations here in Exxon country.