In what many will find a surprising turn of events, electric car sales have plummeted this year, plunging the fledgling industry into financial turmoil. Many manufacturers and dealers are cutting back operations; some have shut down entirely. Others are calling for government action to prevent the industry from wholesale collapse.
Many dealers understandably don't want to discuss declining sales. When asked how well their cars were selling, a spokesman for Electric Vehicles, Inc, in Tampa, tersely replied "no comment", and hung up. A dealer in Texas didn't answer the phone at all. Another in California had its number disconnected.
EPower, a retailer selling electric cars in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, has only sold two cars in the past three months. President Bruce Wood tells DailyTech that, "while there are a lot of tire kickers", few will actually commit to a purchase.
MCEV, the largest electric car dealer in the Pacific Northwest, has seen sales decline to 1-2 vehicles a month, down 80% from earlier this year. Buzz Duell, General Manager of MCEV, blames not only gas prices, but the economy as a whole. "No one wants to spend money right now", he says. Not only are individual buyers cutting back, but corporate and government sales -- which make up a large percentage of MCEV's revenue -- are also being impacted.
Duell expects a recovery in sales to take at least two years.
Tim Sankey, owner of an electric car distributor in Kansas concurs. "It will take time to build a customer base", he says, "but people haven't forgotten about high gas prices". Sankey hopes for a rebound next year.
Sales declines aren't limited to the U.S. In Britain, sales of electric cars have dropped a shocking 58 percent this year. For the first ten months of 2008, a total of only 156 vehicles were sold in the country -- nearly all of those confined to London itself. The announcement came just two days after the nation's Committee on Climate Change predicted electric car sales would increase substantially this year.
Tesla Motors, maker of the all-electric Tesla Roadster, announced a round job cuts last October, and said that plans for a mass-produced high-volume electric car would be "impacted" by the grim sales outlook. Rumors suggested job cuts could be up to half the company's work force, a figure Tesla officially denied.
Larry Shriner, Chief Financial Officer of Zenn Motors, an electric car manufacturer based in Canada, says government "needs to get engaged to give the industry some momentum". Shriner doesn't necessarily favor gas price supports, but he says government needs to ensure "people stay focused" on the benefits of electric car technology.
Sales of traditional cars have also declined, but not as sharply. According to tracking company Autodata, sales are down 37 period from the same period last year.
quote: So they'll just give it cash without any kind of "why should we give it to you?".
quote: This is getting a little silly.
quote: non specific statement that “companies” are “raising hundreds of billions” will have to suffice for as close as you can get to backing up your claims.
quote: Let's not mince words. It's a bailout, which may or may not be ever fully paid back...and even if it is, it will come at a substantial cost to the American taxpayer, due to the generous terms which will almost certainly be granted.
quote: In 1983, Chrysler paid off the loans that had been guaranteed by US taxpayers. The Treasury was also $350 million richer.
quote: Why people would not want to support U.S. jobs with proper bridge loans to the Big Three is incomprehensible. In no way, shape or form are government backed loans, socialism any more than you getting an auto or home loan, is socialism.
quote: MCEV, the largest electric car dealer in the Pacific Northwest, has seen sales decline to 1-2 vehicles a month
quote: Only way to make electric car sale better is to make the electric cars comparable to regular cars in price, performance, and range.
quote: People haven't realized yet that this is the consumer loan credit environment we should've had all along. Commercials promising "No cash? No credit? No Problem!!111one" was not normal...Zero down on a car always was a bad idea.. it's a depreciating asset, the loan is under water as soon as it leaves the car lot.
quote: there are plenty of people who will not buy an electric/hybrid because of that really bad looking design
quote: MCEV, the largest electric car dealer in the Pacific Northwest, has seen sales decline to 1-2 vehicles a month, down 80% from earlier this year
quote: "while there are a lot of tire kickers", few will actually commit to a purchase.
quote: My head started to hurt, until I realized it's just a sneaky way to slam electric cars.
quote: He said; create a federal tax to keep gas at $4/gallon. So if gas falls to $2/gal then the tax would be $2. If gas went to $3.50/gal then $0.50 tax. This would drive the demand up for greener cars - keep the automakers in business and generate money for the government.
quote: the whole purpose for Charles' tax idea was to push ppl away from gas cars and towards alternative options - like hybrids or total electric cars...or bio fuels, etc.
quote: Electric car sales in freefall!SNIPMichael, Michael, I love you because of how you manage to cherry pick the few stories that support your views and have so many DT readers who are in bed with you. It is pretty stagerring the degree of support you get for posts about things like enivornmental anomalies which go against the larger trend (which almost all of your anti global-warming posts are).SNIPGlobal warming causes cooling as well as warming, along with significant shifts in rainfall which will result in floods in areas not used to them, and droughts in areas which normally receive rain.
quote: Things like warmer or colder water temperatures in the Pacific cause a shift in the weather patterns on the west coast of the USA, and this is a well established fact. Now, you can tie this into what was said about how global warming CAN(I did not say it does) cause lower temperatures in some places.Think of it this way, if a normally sunny place like San Diego were to suddenly lose that sun and be overcast 3 out of 5 days, the temperatures WILL drop. This drop in the long term would have secondary effects, which include the drop in temperatures around the affected area.The key is long term vs. short term here. What we are seeing in some areas MAY just be a momentary blip, but you need to look at things like the effect of even a two degree drop in temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, as well as what it does to the areas around it.
quote: Electric Car Sales in Freefall; Industry Risks Collapse
quote: And while I'm not an expert, I believe that the pollution from the power plant is worse than the exhaust from my internal combustion engine.
quote: Pure electrics were never the answer. There's just too many issues that are inadequately dealt with at the current time, and that still are not even close to being solved. These include the limited range, the time it takes to fully recharge, the cost and hassle of installing specialized outlets if you want a more rapid charging time, the hassle of having to remember to plug the thing in every time you park it for the night, and the lack of high-speed charging stations to enable longer roadtrips. Hawaii is going to try to solve the charging issue by just swapping out entire battery packs at "refueling" stations, which is just crazy. Fully electric vehicles are just not even remotely viable at the present time. The way to move forward is to continue optimizing the gas/electric hybrid designs that have proven to be successful in the near term, and to move to a viable non-fossil-fuel source (hydrogen, biofuels, etc.) in the longer term. Pure electrics do not factor in at all.
quote: especially when one considers that much of the electricity is produced with zero-emission sources such as nuclear or hydro