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