Exclusive – Automakers Offer Thoughts On Electric Vehicle Market In 2017 – EV Roadmap Conference


Less issues at dealerships and possible economic disruption could be enablers for stronger growth in the electric vehicle industry

At the recent 2014 EV Roadmap Conference opening panel discussion, John Voelcker, moderator, transported a panel of automaker representatives to the year 2017 and asked them what will the electric vehicle landscape look like?

The panel included:

  • Frank Breust, California BMW Group
  • Alex Keros, General Motors
  • Robert Langford, American Honda
  • Dave Peterson, Nissan North America
  • Mike Tinskey, Ford Motor Company
  • David Patterson, Mitsubishi Motors R&D of America

“All major manufacturers will have one or two electric vehicle offerings, and at least an all battery electric vehicles (BEV) and then at least one plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV),” says David Patterson, Vehicle Emissions/Fuel Economy Compliance, Mitsubishi Motors.

Patterson also mentioned that “we’re going to be seeing the beginning of the mass marketing (of EVs) starting in 2017, and this will be where the knee hits the curve and the race to 2025—CAFE Standards.”

The EV Roadmap conference has established itself as the Pacific Northwest's premier electric vehicle gathering and one of the leading electric vehicle conferences in the United States.

The EV Roadmap conference has established itself as the Pacific Northwest’s premier electric vehicle gathering and one of the leading electric vehicle conferences in the United States.

What about economic jolt to the system between now and 2017?

Capable Of Handling Any Task

Capable Of Handling Any Task

Alex Keros, Senior Proj. Engineer with General Motors claims, “There will be some incremental and major technology advancements, but I assume there will be a major shock to the ‘system’.” The shock could be seven dollar gas or some other geo-political issues that will have consumers looking at alternatives.

“There will be a lot more electric vehicle models (2017), with a lot more consumer attention,” says Robert Langford, Plug-In Electric Sales, American Honda. “Originally, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles were not a swiss army knife and the next generation will be more like a swiss army knife.”

Challenges were also addressed in this panel discussion, such as dealerships and the reported lengthy sales process to sell electric. Langford added “how do we integrate new technology onto the dealership floors? There is a culture on the (dealer) floor, this is the way do it. We need to continue to roll out more and give them enough margins—and EV champions in each dealership.”

“Customer education is a problem (in 2014), people still think the Volt is a 40-mile car, we need to simplify the message,” Keros says. Keros mentioned that GM is on its fourth round of Volt training and continuous staff turnover is a challenge.

BMW’s Breust added that we wanted to add product geniuses that were separate from the selling process and and Ford’s Tinskey added that, currently, Ford dealers have the option to sell electric vehicles or not.

John Voelcker provided some predictions for 2017 with gas price fluctuations being a possible issue for auto consumers, along with the end of electric vehicle incentives for certain manufacturers.

To close on a positive note, we’ll repost this quote from Mitsubishi’s David Patterson:

“All major manufacturers will have one or two electric vehicle offerings, and at least an all battery electric vehicles (BEV) and then at least one plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).”

A lot to look forward to in 2017, it seems.

Category: BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan

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40 responses to "Exclusive – Automakers Offer Thoughts On Electric Vehicle Market In 2017 – EV Roadmap Conference"
  1. zoe-driver says:

    Paying now 1.56€ per Liter in averge in Germany this is:

    1 US-Gallon = 3,785411784 Liters
    1 € = 1,34 US$

    1,56 * 3,785411784 * 1,34 =
    7.91 US$ per Gallon

    So we have here around 8$ per Gallon, but its July 2014.

    No one cares and is running in the showrooms.
    Maybe it happens in US. Who knows.

    BTW: Sweden, Finnland, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Netherlands have higher prices than Germany

    1. David Murray says:

      I have wondered about that. But I think one difference is that American’s drive less fuel efficient cars than Germans. I’ve been to Germany back in 2008 and I did not see streets full of pickup trucks and suburbans that get less than 10 miles per gallon.

      Another issue is that Americans probably commute further than Germans on a daily basis.

      And last, I think that Germans have other forms of transportation. Here in the Ft.Worth/Dallas area, if you want to go anywhere, you NEED a car.

      1. kdawg says:

        Would be good to know how much gas per capita each country burns. That would make the prices more relevant. (maybe I’ll do some googling later)

        1. kdawg says:

          OK, I couldn’t wait and found this. (not gasoline/diesel.. but close)

          Oil > Consumption > Per capita

          Germany: 29.79 bbl/day per 1,000 people

          USA: 68.67 bbl/day per 1,000 people

          1. kdawg says:

            Looking at this chart though, it appears gas (oil) prices don’t have as big of an effect on gasoline use as you may think. Look how much oil prices have risen but how little gasoline use has dropped in response.

            1. Mart says:

              Economic shock doesn’t occur with price. It occurs with rapid change in price. The price can triple over a decade and no one cares, but if it happens in a week?

              1. kdawg says:

                Oil went up 700% in 6 years. That’s pretty steep!

                1. KenZ says:

                  A good friend of mine used to do the math/algorithms behind the weather derivatives sold by Koch Industries. Anyway, he had tons of info on commodity pricing, weather (not relevant here) and consumer behavior. Back around 2003, I made some comment to him that I hoped gas prices would go up so people would conserve more, and he laughed at me, noting that (at that time) there was basically zero correlation between price and usage.

                  Obviously when we got that super steep rise, it DID effect gas usage, but that may speak more to @Mart’s comment about rate vs. absolute price. Just last year here in CA I heard someone say that gas prices were “pretty good.” At $3.50 a gallon… if you’d told them that 10 years ago, they would have been shocked.

                  It’s like putting a frog in a pot of water and slowly raising the temp…

                  1. kdawg says:

                    Makes me think even a 50cent gas tax wouldn’t do much. Other than give people another reason to b!tch about the government.. and possibly fund the infrastructure repair that we need.

                  2. Scramjett says:

                    Well that’s depressing. It makes me think there really is no breaking the status quo.

                  3. TomArt says:

                    Exactly. We humans are not tuned to gradual changes. We notice drastic changes.

                    Just look at political punditry: Bill O’Reilly used to be the insane one…then came Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity…after a few years, O’Reilly doesn’t seem so far off anymore (even though he still is).

                    Big Oil knows that they can get whatever price they want for gas, as long as the price goes up slowly. The same people back in my home community in PA that got upset when gas first jumped over $1 a gallon, are now happy whenever gas drops under $3.50/gal.

                    1. Scramjett says:

                      You know, I wonder if there will be a point where increased oil scarcity will limit big oil’s ability to insulate the public from price shocks? At some point, will there be price shocks just because big oil can’t avoid them anymore? Maybe that’s when things will change.

            2. TomArt says:

              Thanks for the info, kdawg!

      2. Josh says:

        The cost comparison has to include the cost of electricity also. I can’t quote the exact price in DE, but it is more than Texas.

        1. Cavaron says:

          It’s between 0,25 and 0,30 Euro the kWh, depending on your supplyer.

          1. Josh says:

            Thanks. Compare that to 0.10 – 0.12 USD here. It is roughly triple the cost.

      3. DaveMart says:

        German’s commute shorter distances per year, and indeed many simply catch the excellent public transport, but are just as inclined to take long distance journeys as Americans, or more, so the average distance travelled is not as far short of that in the US as it would otherwise be.

        In fact their usage patterns pretty much explain why the German manufacturers led by VW have pretty much settled on PHEVs with a 22mile-ish EV range, rather than the longer range of the Volt as less Germans ( and Europeans in general ) would need it.

        1. Scramjett says:

          Given the share of trips in Germany that are on bicycle and public transit, that approach actually makes sense (at least until there are high mileage batteries). They’re probably more likely to use “gas mode” on their motorways and EV mode when they reach their destination cities.

          1. TomArt says:

            As I understand it, because of the growing popularity of zero-emission zones in European cities, that’s exactly how you would have to operate the PHEV.

    2. Brian says:

      But it’s all relative. $8/gallon would be a doubling of price. What would happen in Germany if the price of gas/diesel doubled in 3 years?

      Come to think of it, that happened here around 2008. Back then, though, we didn’t have EVs as an option. There was a sudden surge in hybrid and small car sales though. If gas were to double next year, there are enough EVs/PHEVs available that they would be an easy sale to many people.

      1. alain says:

        in quebec ,where already at $7,00 dollars a gallon but are electriciy is dirt cheap at 6 cent a kwh.i have a leaf whice pays for it self in seven years.

    3. Alonso Perez says:

      It’s all about expectations. $7.91 gas in the US would be seen as a catastrophe. In the American mind $4 is expensive.

      I’d rather EVs made headway on something stronger and less volatile than gas prices. EVs should be seen as being simply better. Cheap to run too, but fundamentally better.

  2. NZDavid says:

    I think the ‘tipping point’ will be a combination of price & gas availability.
    As in fuel efficiency increases, and non use by the EV’ers will cause more and more local gas stations to close.

    The question is how far out of the way will people drive until the time/cost equation makes it not worthwhile?

    I noticed another local gas station closed near here a few months ago.

    1. NZDavid says:

      PS The current price here is $7.34 US equivalent per gallon.

      1. TomArt says:

        That would close a few gas stations, if gas got that high within two years, perhaps…

  3. Kind of funny that the most influential player, and the one with the most disruptive product in 2017, was not on the stage.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Tesla rarely attends any event of this type.

      1. TomArt says:

        They don’t need to – any time plug-ins are brought up, Tesla is the gold standard. Every major automaker knows who they are, and Tesla Motors always comes up in discussion, whether the other automakers like it or not.

    2. KenZ says:

      To be fair, on a total kWh in vehicles delivered worldwide basis, Nissan may very well be the leader.

      1. Mint says:

        The Model S sells to people that would otherwise buy 20 MPG large performance sedans. The LEAF sells to people that would otherwise buy a 50MPG Prius.

        And in terms of disruption, Tesla got itself a fat share (10-20%) of the $80k+ market. The LEAF got ~1% of its target market.

        So I say Tesla is far and away the most disruptive. If they get even 5% of the $40-60k market with the Gen 3, that’ll be huge.

      2. TomArt says:

        That may be true, KenZ, but the main point with respect to Tesla is exactly what Mint said in terms of market disruption.

    3. Open-Mind says:

      As well as no Toyota. Doesn’t reflect well on their (impractical IMHO) fuel cell vision.

  4. Grant Gerke says:

    Regarding disruptions…Europe could be cut off this winter from Russia’s gas. Ramifications, could be many?

    I hope not but you could have severe ramifications for a European manufacturing base looking for cheaper power. Contracting jobs due to this in Europe and decreased European car sales, in general.

    The consumer may look for alternatives. As John Voelcker pointed out the “car-buying” future in 2017? Do I need a car with at home business? Ride sharing?

    1. Cavaron says:

      In the long run, russia would do us a favor with this. First winter would be extremely cold though…

      1. Alonso Perez says:

        It would not be a favor to anybody. It would let Europe justify a move back to coal. That’s the last thing we want to see.

  5. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

    We are talking about an oil shock here. If you look at the last one, in the 70s, it gave rise to a new generation of fuel efficient (for the time) and smaller vehicles. And, it gave rise to a new crop of companies that produced them in volume. The average US made car got something like 10 MPG. That was the event that push Detroit (AKA US auto making) into a decline.

    There will be another oil shock. Maybe the Iraq/Syria Islamic State causes a broader gulf war. Maybe Russia chokes off Europe. Something bad will happen and people will be flocking to even more efficient cars, especially EVs as people seek to break the bond that ties them to oil. Even though the shock will probably last no more than 6 months people will remember and buying habits will change a bit. It took around 10 years for the 70s oil shock to wear off.

    There will be lots of secondary effects. Some are obvious: auto dealers will tack huge premiums on anything efficient, more US drilling/fracking/nat gas, a reworking of highway use taxes, increased development of EVs. Probably the most significant will be a positive change in public perception towards EVs. Large scale projects like wind and solar farms won’t increase because the planning horizon is too far out.

    1. TomArt says:

      If the shock is comparable to the 70s, then there will be a return to wind subsidies (I just read recently that wind power installations in the US have dropped over 90% because Congress did not re-up incentives). That’s a shame – we were really getting on a roll there for a while…

  6. Absolutely NO WAY will all major auto manufactures offer a battery electric vehicle in 2017.

    Toyota, Honda and Hyundai will likely be still spooling up hydrogen car production from dozens to hundreds, and will have no regulatory reason to offer any battery electric car.

    1. Driverguy01 says:

      True but a Hydrogen car is an EV in itself and once people drive them, they will get used to silent driving and then they will make the jump to EVs cause they will feel ridiculous to have to go to the pump every week. It’s all good, they’ll come around, eventually.

  7. > …cause they will feel ridiculous…

    that totally cracked me up. so true.