Auto sales booming - except for electric cars
Let's agree that if auto makers ever came up with an electric car whose performance came close to matching a gasoline vehicle and whose price was right, it would be a marvelous advancement in technology.
But that's not the case today. In order to sell just about any electric or hybrid car, government must suibsidize it. And even then, there are few takers.
Electric car sales are not charging the marketplace. A new study by online automotive research company Edmunds.com suggests the segment may have run out of gas.
Sales of electric drive vehicles are stuck at about 3.6% of all new car sales for 2014, Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said.
That's below the 3.7% market share for 2013, and it's not likely to grow any before the end of the year.
And that's during an otherwise robust sales season. Total figures for August were higher than any time in the last decade.
Automakers sold about 1.6 million vehicles in the U.S. in August, an increase of about 3% from August 2013, according to initial industry estimates released Wednesday.
"The whole automobile market has grown," Caldwell said. "We’re not seeing electric vehicles as part of that growth."
The numbers are surprising, Caldwell said, to automobile forecasters. Five years ago, analysts thought that electric vehicle sales would continue to expand as more manufacturers put more electric vehicles on the road and as the vehicles' cost came down.
That hasn't happened. Electric vehicle sales have slowed while prices have come down and dealers have been offering increasingly better deals on financing and incentives.
"It isn't growing," Caldwell said. "It's stagnant and even slightly down."
Caldwell said stable gas prices have contributed to a slackening in interest in non-gasoline electric hybrid and plug-in vehicles. So have the increasingly good fuel efficiency levels of gas cars generally.
Buyers are looking at the higher average price of electric vehicles, Caldwell said, and deciding that "the math doesn't really work out."
Electric cars are not only far more expensive than gas powered autos, but the performance characteristcs are horrendous. At most, you can travel about 50 miles without recharging. For many Americans, that's a couple of trips to the mall. The hybrid performance is good, but you're paying an awful lot more for a few miles more in fuel efficiency.
Consumers will decide when electric and hybrid cars willl be an attractive buy, not government. As soon as the auto makers realize that, they'll get busy on making a popular electric car a reality.