The Electric Vehicle Catch 22

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 16

The Catch 22 for EVs

The Catch 22 for EVs

Soon, we’ll post an infographic with the fastest electric vehicles on Earth.

Catch 22

Catch 22

At the bottom of that infographic is this statement:

“The “Catch 22″ with EVs is:”

“Until more people buy EVs, their costs will remain high.”

“Until the costs of EVs are lowered, fewer people will buy them.”

Is this the electric vehicle “Catch 22?

If so, then what’s the solution?

Artificially and temporarily lower costs to drive up demand?  Allow ample time to pass so that progress leads to a lower price?  Keep prices high so that “fewer people” continue to buy them?

Is there even an EV “Catch 22?

Sales are steadily rising.  Costs are slowly coming down.  Perhaps the “Catch 22” described here will work itself out on its own.

Thoughts?

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16 responses to "The Electric Vehicle Catch 22"

  1. GSP says:

    “Sales are rising. Costs are coming down.”

    This will work out over the next 5-10 years.

    In the meantime, building EVs in the higher price, lower volume, segments is the way to introduce the new EV technology at a profit. Just like any other new tech from early watches and automobiles, to cell phones and plasma TVs.

    GSP

    1. Jeff D says:

      Just like Tesla is doing, and the other car companies wonder how they’re doing it.

  2. David Murray says:

    At current sales rates, I also believe the problem will work itself out. Also there is another catch-22:

    People won’t buy EVs without a huge charging infrastructure.
    Nobody will pay to build a huge charging infrastructure without more EVs on the road.

    This will also work itself out over time. As long as people continue to buy at even the current rate of adoption because eventually the cumulative sales will be enough to put a significant number on the road, thus give incentive for more charging stations.

    1. Aaron says:

      Please allow me to refer to a previous article here on InsideEVs. It shows that several European countries had a HUGE charging infrastructure, but EVs were not selling well in those countries. I don’t believe the charging infrastructure is the issue.

      Cost is somewhat of an issue, but look at how the Tesla Model S is flying off the shelves. Even in the non-electric realm, people are happy to drop $40K on a Lexus — and that’s a mainstream model. Thanks to leasing and creative finance offers, people are able to afford more expensive vehicles.

      I think there is an imagined problem with electric vehicle’s range. If people can’t travel 200 or 300 miles on a single charge, they imagine they will be in the middle of Death Valley with no possible way to charge their vehicle. I believe this is how it was when the first gasoline-powered vehicles, when gas stations were relatively rare.

      To a lesser extent, there are people who complain about an EV’s top speed (I’ve heard it several times: “What? Your car only does 81 MPH?”) and those who say that Jesus is returning so we don’t have to conserve the Earth since it will be destroyed (I’ve personally heard that from 3 separate people here in the Bible Belt, and it makes me sick).

      1. David Murray says:

        Don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe lack of charging infrastructure is the only thing holding EV adoption back. I think it is one important piece of the puzzle. You still have to have desirable cars at a desirable price.

        When I park my Leaf or Volt at a public charger, people constantly stop and stare at it. Some take photos on their phone. People are amazed. It is one of the best advertisements there are for EVs.

        1. Aaron says:

          Interestingly enough, rarely anyone around here in Dallas looks at my i-MiEV. I’ve had exactly 2 people ask me about it. Weird, huh? Maybe because the car doesn’t scream, “I’m an electric car!”, or maybe it does scream, “I’m a golf cart!” 🙂

          1. Jason M. says:

            Hey, do you work off of Luna & Valwood? I see an i-MiEV parked over occasionally when I am going to lunch.

        2. Ocean Railroader says:

          Seeing a plug in car in Virginia is extremely rare I have only seen one of those five or six times and it was the same car and owner parking over and over again in the same parking lot. Seeing a fully electric car on the road or in a parking lot is something that I have never seen before.

    2. Bonaire says:

      People will buy far more EVs if they could charge at work. Enticing workplaces and parking garages to install charging points is key. And, of course, allowing for tow-away of ICE vehicles who park there. The key is getting commuters a good option for cheaper commuting, so that leads to at-work charging to add benefit for condo/apartment folks and longer-commute ranges. Leasing an EV, like a Leaf and Spark EV, and using a free public charger is possible even for lower-income people. Just need a place to get them to plug-in.

  3. Ocean Railroader says:

    I think the 75 mile range for the lower end cheaper cars is a big turn off for a lot of people in that I once conduced a poll for a collage project and we asked 60 people about what type of electric cars and a lot of people about 70% of them where turned off by the low 75 mile ranges on them. Such as a lot of them wanted to have 200 mile ranges with fast charging before they would even consider owning one.

    The ironic thing out of the project was we had four cars to ask people about the Honda Fit, The Chevy Volt and the Tesla and the Nissan Leaf.

    The Honda Fit took first place with 45% of the votes. The Nissan leaf came in third and the Tesla came in second and the Volt came in forth.

    1. Bonaire says:

      These surveys show how illogical people can be in their “current mindset”. Were the questions to people with families or individuals? Families can easily handle a BEV along with an ICE backup car for longer distances. Or Volts. Waiting for 200-mile range will then become “well, I need 300-mile range and 5 minute recharge”. That’s ridiculous but that’s how people think – in terms of how their ICE works. I don’t know anyone with a 300-mile round-trip commute. I have a 140 mile rt commute about two times per week and the Volt does very well – and I can plug in at the 70-mile point before returning home.

  4. MrEnergyCzar says:

    High oil prices will change that statement….

    MrEnergyCzar

    1. haroldC says:

      oil doesn’t have to rise…..just the greed of the oil companies is enough. gas in montreal last two weeks hovering around $5.29/usg for regular and $5.67/usg for premium…………

    2. Spec says:

      Yeah, this. EVs will be a niche growing market for a while but eventually gasoline prices will get so high that the advantages of EV will become obvious to everyone. That will be the tipping point.

  5. With the App for PlugShare showing the tally at now over 19,000 EV Chargers – I think – that reality is missed by so many people without the app – even if they see the web page at http://www.plugshare.com – since it takes both a visual and a logical element to get the idea – there are a lot of places one can charge up their EV – Besides Home. Of course – that excludes Wyoming – since the two listings on PlugShare – are not for real – based on phone calls and emails I dealt with! We Need an Animation of the Growth on PlugShare like the one Tesla created to show their Supercharger build out plan – instead showing the Month & Year!

    Another thing is that the development of EV Charging is not actually progressing in any form of logical growth – except for Tesla’s Plan – since there are many more chargers going in – in clusters, and as of yet there are a number of areas with big Charger Gaps – nothing installed in them! Maybe I am wrong – but if you show a person a Map of where the Chargers are installed – compared to his Dealer with the cars, or centered around their own home address – he or she will get a better idea of what is really out there!

    1. Bonaire says:

      19,000 EV chargers is like having 2,000 gasoline stations nationally. With 8000 EVs sold per month, we need to see 200-300 new charge points installed per month. Including far more at workplaces.