EV Industry Faces Hard Times, Slowed Adoption
October 18, 2012 9:45 PM
comment(s) - last by
Cost, charging infrastructure and battery concerns are all reasons for the slowed adoption
Electric vehicles (EVs) are not taking off quite as expected, and if sales numbers don't start turning around, this could spell long-term trouble for the industry, according to a new report from
The Detroit News
Back in 2009, the Obama administration awarded $2.4 billion in stimulus grants for EVs and advanced batteries. The investment seemed promising, since gas costs continued climbing. Who wouldn't want an EV in the days of paying $5 per gallon?
The answer is, apparently, most people. Pushing EV adoption has been difficult for a few reasons, including cost (despite huge
federal tax credits and incentives
, EVs are more expensive than gas vehicles), slow deployment of charging infrastructure and battery worries.
Right now, the federal tax credit is $7,500 per EV in the U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed upping this figure to $10,000 in order to make EVs more affordable. He also proposed a $1 billion budget for speeding up EV deployment and charging infrastructure in 15 communities.
Despite these efforts, and the fact that EVs can lessen the U.S.' dependence on foreign oil and reduce global warming, there was one issue that likely scared many customers off: lithium ion battery problems.
One such instance was the
Chevrolet Volt's battery fire
in May 2011, where a
Chevrolet Volt underwent a series of tests at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) facility in Wisconsin. Three weeks after a side-impact crash test on May 12, the Volt caught fire while parked in the testing center.
Fisker Automotive has
recalled its EV batteries for the Karma
due to recent troubles, and the Nissan Leaf recently
experienced some issues with
the Arizona heat
2012 Chevrolet Volt plug-in and 2012 Nissan Leaf sales have been all over the map over the past year. In 2011, 7,671 Volts were sold while 9,674 Leafs were sold. From January to September 2012, Leaf sales dropped to 5,212 while Volt sales jumped to 16,348.
The Detroit News
, this is because the Volt has an auxiliary gas engine that kicks in when the battery is drained. To some degree, it still relies on gas, and the U.S. just isn't ready to take gas completely out of the equation yet.
Nissan hoped to sell 20,000 Leafs this year, but clearly, that is unlikely to happen.
A recent hit to the EV industry was
A123 Systems' bankruptcy filing
earlier this week. A123 made EV batteries and developed advanced battery technology.
There are some bright sides to the EV industry, though. Ford just added
60 new EV engineers
and doubled in-house battery testing, and
Toyota is talking plans for new EVs
The adoption of EVs may just take some time, and could likely get a boost in the coming years as the CAFE standards for gas-powered vehicles continues to increase. The Obama administration just recently finalized
the 54.5 MPG CAFE standards
for 2017-2025 model years.
The Detroit News
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Volt Battery Fire
10/18/2012 10:34:48 PM
The Volt battery fire is a complete non issue. Its main been used as a political spin story.
There has not been a single real-world incident where a Volt has caught on fire despite numerous crashes and accidents including one where it was completely pancaked by a Camry.
Starting cause of the fire was determined to be, not at the battery, but rather the coolant used for the water cooling system. In order for a fire to start, the following things need to happen:
1. Puncture the battery pack by by a side impact crash into a narrow object like a tree or pole > 25 MPH. A T-Bone crash by a vehicle would not cause a puncture due to total forces shifting the pack rather than puncturing it.
2. The coolant has to leak and wait for HOURS to WEEKS for it dry. The coolant as it turns outs, is conductive causing a short circuit path on the remaining cells and subsequent localized heating and eruption of a thermal event i.e. fire.
3. Not follow official procedure which is already to drain the battery coolant and/or discharge the pack to prevent this.
These are all extremely unlikely events to happen in the field, and thus why we haven't heard of a Volt on fire in the field.
Read the official NHTSA report yourself, its non-issue.
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