Excitement Is Growing, But EVs Still Have a Long Way to Go

Pure electric, battery-powered cars accounted for only about 0.4% of U.S. vehicle sales in 2016.

U.S. sales of plug-in electric vehicles jumped 37% in 2016, but the numbers were still a small fraction of overall new car sales, suggesting that the much-publicized pure electric car still isn’t trickling down to the average consumer.

Despite sales of 159,139 vehicles , plug-ins made up only 0.8% of the 18.38 million vehicles sold in the U.S. last year. Pure electric, battery-powered cars accounted for even less, coming in at about 0.4% of overall sales.

“For most families, it’s not a consideration yet," Chris Robinson, an analyst for Lux Research, Inc. , told Design News . “The pure electric is still a second or third car for those who do buy it. It’s not a primary car yet.”

Still, the numbers are improving steadily, and with the introduction of the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3, EV sales figures are expected to jump again in 2017 and 2018. “Lower battery prices will influence sales in the next couple of years,” Robinson said. “The new models aren’t as expensive to make, and the OEMs are getting excited about them.”

Indeed, automakers are investing billions of dollars in electric powertrains, and excitement for the cars is rising. The all-electric Chevy Bolt was named North American Car of the Year at the recent Detroit Auto Show, and was also honored as the Motor Trend Car of the Year in November and the Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Chevrolet sold 579 Bolts in December, the first month of its availability, according to the InsideEVs website.


The Chevy Bolt brings a 200-mile all-electric range to the lower end of the EV market. (Source: Design News)

This isn’t the first time for EVs to generate such excitement, of course. In 2010, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn notably predicted the company would sell 500,000 Nissan Leafs per year by 2013. Nissan sold only about 22,000 in the U.S. in 2013.

Analysts say the key to producing bigger numbers lies in better price-performance, and many believe the Bolt and Telsa Model 3 will offer that. Both cars are expected to feature all-electric ranges of more than 200 miles, for prices around $30,000.

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In contrast, the two biggest-selling pure EVs – the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X – typically cost more than $60,000. To date, pure electric cars have appealed mostly to enthusiasts with high family incomes.

Robinson sees the Bolt as a stepping stone to steady success at the lower end of the market, but not as a game changer in itself. “As innovative and impressive as the Bolt is, it’s still a $37,000


Lux Researchers don’t expect to see EVs account for the majority of new car sales for many years. By the 2030s, <a href="http://telanganauniversityresults.com/">telangana university</a> Lux Researchers don’t expect to see EVs account for the majority of new car sales for many years. By the 2030s,

enior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos. http://telanganauniversityresults.com/

There will come a tipping point, when charging stations outnumber gasoline stations. The change will be slow until then.

Charging stations have to out-number gasoline stations first? They won't do that until EVs out-number gasoline cars. That's a "which came first - the chicken or the egg?" argument. Meanwhile, electricity is available at every gasoline station... No, the biggest obstacle to EVs becoming common is battery cost and range. The second biggest obstacle is the very limited availability of most EVs. Most of us can't buy one locally, and have you ever seen an advertisement for one?

The public would have more confidence in EVs were it not for battery failures in phones, laptops, power tools. Also, range claims based on flat roads are overly optimistic if you drive in steep terrain. Any chemical reaction yields only so many joules/mole. Thin coatings on plates can't store enough charge to give EVs the range of a gas tank. Liquid metals would store a lot more energy but with new dangers and would not recharge when braking. Lots of problematic chemistry and thermodynamics.

The Electric Vehicle is a great idea, BUT it is not suitable for everybody. Aside from range considerations, not all folks have the means to make the recharging connection. Service and battery replacement costs are also real concerns for many, because service will be limited to the HIGH PRICED dealer service departments, and the unavoidable battery replacement is certain to be quite expensive, not being subject to competition to bring down the prices.

One more concern never mentioned is the reduced range when accessories like heating and cooling are in use. Also, there is the range reduction when headlights are in use, not as great as prior to LEDs, but still a factor. AND, if the self driving fad becomes a standard for EV's then we will find that the power consumption for all of that "smartness" will not be trivial any more. In addition, service and repair on them will still be a dealers only situation.

EV's work for some people. Financially, as well as operationally, EV's just don't work for me. I'm not a 1%'er.

J.W. Well, YES! There is always that pesky price issue that bothers folks about some things. Not only the purchase price, which is sort of steep, but also the unavoidable battery replacement price.

The big problem that I see is more serious, which is, "what if folks DON"T WANT an electric vehicle?" The main source of income for the auto companies is selling vehicles that people WANT, not what some politician says that they need. Customers will often refuse to purchase a vehicle that they really do not wish to own. So either a lot of personal freedoms are going to be removed, or somehow EV type cars are going to need to be a lot more desirable. THE 500 CHARACTER LIMIT REALLY STINKS!!!!!!

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