Why the electric car is not so successful as expected in Europe.

Just one or two years ago, there were much more higher expectations for the electric car to succeed than probably today. But what happened to the electric car deployment into the global automotive markets? The aim of this post is trying  to investigate a bit of possible reasons for that delay.

One of the most important obvious roadblocks of the electric car is its own price. One must consider that one of the reason for its high costs are volumes, auto manufacturers must design or adapt the production lines to the vehicles. Many OEMs are doing a big effort in using current platform lines to adapt current market vehicles to have electric versions. But that is not enough and localizing production seems to be crucial for the price (see this video of Carlos Ghosn Renault Nissan CEO opinion about the electric car evolution). Furthermore on price, Many european countries are promoting the electric car sales by supporting price subsidies to electric cars (though in the european crisis environment the subsidies are in danger). So nowadays the cost issue is more or less solved or under solution. Then, what is stopping the introduction of electric cars?

The second most important roadblock is infrastructure, battery charging stations. Some European cities are making effort in supporting electric car introduction but many of them in the area of public transport (see Autolib system in paris, or car2go in Amsterdam. But that is only an initiative in reducing emissions. The real promoting of electric car, would be to install battery charging stations “around the corner”. With a current average of 100 to 150 km. autonomy from batteries, users are afraid to be stuck on traffic with no power. The roadblock of installing all the charging stations is the cost, so it can be only feasible  on a big city base or  Tin small countries  like Denmark or Israel which are leading specific programs with car manufacturers on installation of charging centers (see here an example).

The former two implementation reasons are quite obvious, but there is a philosophical reason behind all. Are people loosing motivation in sustainability world-wide?. California 1990: federal government launches the so-called “California zero-emissions vehicle” law. Its aim was to promote the introduction of the electric car. It was the peak of green ecological politics. 2003 the governed cancelled the law. So in the end it has changed a lot the environmental policies, or even the public opinion on ecology and sustainability. There was a time before the crisis were everybody was talking about the climate change. where has it all gone? where is the trend? is still high?

My subjective answer is NO. In western European countries the trend is there. People are more and more sustainable, ecological and positive about green world. But it is hard to say for someone working like me, working in the automotive industry that people are buying nowadays more bicycles than cars in Europe. For every car sold in Europe two bicycles are sold (See attached report). New products are also helping, electric bikes are taking a stand, for short distances to work. Why buying a car when you can enjoy fresh air?

My opinion is that cars in general are loosing attractive among a population that nowadays constraint in purchasing power due to the crisis in Europe, is concerned about health, environment, has not much free time to spend on traffic jams, and looks for a better quality of life. So maybe future is …electric bike?


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