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Re: [EVDL] EV Fatigue

On 17 Sep 2010 at 10:30, Eric wrote:

> The problem with EVs are that those in the EV world are trying to "Fix"
> something that's not broken in the GAS powered world.

EVs are cleaner, quieter, smoother. We know that. But now think. Out on
the highway, where people do most of their driving, what can an EV do that
an ICE can't?

Well, let's see. They can run on energy you make yourself, with PV panels
or wind machines.

And how many people have PV panels and wind machines in their back yards, or
expect to have them any time soon? How many who do will be prepared to buy
more in order to power an EV?

OK, what else can they do that an ICE can't, that the average consumer
actually cares about?

Uh.

I'm stuck. Help me out here.

I think Eric has it right. EVs solve problems that Joe and Jane Average
don't perceive as problems.

On the other hand, look at Ebikes. They're an EV success story because they
offer something that the products they compete with, regular bicycles, don't
- the ability to dodge excruciating standstill city traffic without breaking
a sweat or having to be particularly fit.

Few people expect to go more than perhaps 10 miles on a bicycle, so the
additional range of gas-powered scooters doesn't matter. In fact, I'd guess
(though I have no figures) that most Ebike buyers never even consider gas
scooters. They choose Ebikes instead of or in place of a regular bicycle.

Look at the factory hybrids, too. All the surveys tell us that MPG isn't
very important to vehicle buyers, so why do they have respectable sales
numbers?

Because the factory hybrids appeal on other bases. They're indisputably
high tech cars for high tech people. Even though they get all their energy
from gasoline, they're perceived as "green" cars to and for folks who think
of themselves as environmentalists. So they have a natural constituency,
small though it may be.

In the US, most vehicle sales are ICE powered midsize sedans, SUVs, and
crossover wagons. They're essentially commodity vehicles, produced in
massive quantities with a keen manufacturer's eye to cost control.
Competition is pretty brisk.

However, most vehicle manufacturers also offer speciality vehicles. They
include sporty / performance cars, true offroad vehicles, conversion vans,
RV bodies, and - yes - hybrids. They're built in small quantities for small
numbers of people with specialized needs and (dare I say it) for fussy
owners. They thus sell at generally higher prices (and margins).

I expect that's the category that EVs will fit into, IF they're ever
actually offered (I'm still skeptical).

That's also the reason that we shouldn't expect to see really affordable
prices on EVs (at least not very good ones). Like recycled paper towels,
organic apples, and "natural" dish soap, specialty vehicles are mostly
advertised and sold to higher-income folks. These customers have accepted
the idea of paying more for "green" products.

>
> When you make it a no-brainer, the masses will descend on EV car lots
> with cash in hand. They will trip over each other to buy an EV only
> when you provide a dependable EV for them to buy.

Here I think Eric contradicts his own argument. As he suggested above, for
mass adoption, EVs also have to offer something that comparable ICE powered
vehicles don't and can't. What would that be?

Lower operating cost when fuel is expensive? Well, maybe. That does
generate some increased interest in EVs. We've seen it here many times.
When gasoline approached $4 a gallon a while back, subscriptions to the EVDL
skyrocketed.

Still, we've seen that as long as supply keeps up with demand, the vast
majority of ICE owners will just grumble and pay the higher prices.

However, I think there is something fuel-related that could really make EVs
take off. It's motor fuel that's not just expensive, but >hard to get.<

During the 1970s fuel crunch, it wasn't so much the rising cost of gasoline
that generated interest in EVs (and bicycles), it was the inconvenience of
buying gasoline. In many areas you had to wait for hours in a long queue at
one of the few open filling stations. When you finally got to the pump, you
might find a limit of 8 or fewer gallons - about 120 miles' worth for the
average car then. Who wants to go through that 2 or 3 times a week?

To make it worse, in some states or areas, you could only buy gasoline on
odd or even days of the month (depending on the last digit of your license
plate). You had to plan your trips round the days you could buy gasoline.

This was enough of a nuisance to drivers that quite a few college students
made beer money by offering to sit in well-heeled owners' cars in gas lines
while the owners did something more useful.

Americans HATE things that take away their leisure time. (I guess those in
other lands, too.) Think about it, and think about how easy it is to fill
up an EV.

> Build [reliable, long range EVs] and they will come. Stop trying to
> educate people. They don't care about education, they WANT what gets
> the job done.

Until ICEVs >can't< get the job done, I think EVs will be of interest to a
relatively small minority.

But if small, it seems to be a surprisingly enthusiastic group. And as I
said above, with the right kind of advertising, the automakers can sell EVs
to this minority - if they choose to do so. We shall see.

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

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