Thursday, January 22, 2015


The world turning to electric vehicle purchase is a vote of confidence in the companies helping to wean the world from a petro-based transportation infrastructure. Obviously, a vehicle’s features—its style, handling and range—are essential for making a good decision. But for many EV buyers, the level of commitment an automaker makes toward the electric car future is another important consideration.

To help you better understand the company behind the car, we offer these brief assessments of how much EV street cred each of the major automotive companies deserve to the next.

What indicates that an automaker is making a serious level of commitment to vehicle electrification?
Some EVs use existing internal combustion platforms. The automaker finds a way to swap out gas or diesel systems with batteries, motors, chargers and electric controls. This creative reuse can be viable. But auto companies that design and build an EV from the ground up specifically and exclusively as an electric vehicle are making a bigger investment—one that results in a car optimized for electric propulsion.

Most electric cars on the road today are produced in minimal quantities—showing little confidence from their makers that a battery-powered vehicle can become popular. These cars are primarily produced and sold, a couple hundred per month, to comply with government mandates for zero-emission cars. However, a few companies—most notably Nissan, Tesla and (to some degree) General Motors—are working to sell plug-in cars in the thousands per month—and eventually in the tens and hundreds of thousands.

After nearly four years of EV sales, there are still only three electric cars—the Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S—with availability widely across the United States. Most models are only available in California, and in some cases also in the New York area. Carmakers covering a wide territory, from one corner of the country to the other, deserve credit for making EVs a mainstream option. Another way to gauge commitment is the percentage of a brand’s dealerships that have inventory and EV-devoted sales support.

An electric vehicle is a different animal than an internal combustion car. Car companies that invest thought and resources into EV innovation are helping establish a new automotive category that maximizes the distinct advantages of an electric car. Notable electric drive features include: quick charging, range-extending, engines lightweight body materials, efficient AC/heating ,big battery packs ,mobile apps wifi hot spots,back up camers, and multiple regenerative braking settings with driver-controls such as paddle shifters. These features earn EV bonus points for car makers.

One sure-fire way to kill an EV program is to overprice a plug-in car. While cost and pricing are obviously complex proprietary issues, the current market has established benchmarks for purchase and lease pricing. Electric models that carry sticker prices significantly higher than the competition reflect a clear lack of interest in selling a plug-in car in meaningful quantities.

Every carmaker starts down the road to electrification by launching its first battery-powered car. But there’s a difference between dipping one’s toes in the water and developing a full electrification program that includes multiple models in different vehicle segments—from compacts and sedans, to wagons and crossovers, and one day hopefully minivans and pickup trucks. Relying on a single EV especially if it’s overpriced, produced in small quantities, and only sold in one state—indicates an anemic electric program.

Nothing undermines consumer confidence in an automaker’s electric efforts than strident anti-EV comments from a chief executive. Honest assessments of the challenges facing electric cars are obviously welcome. But off-the-cuff attacks are unfortunate. Claims from CEOs that EVs “make no sense,” that consumer don’t care, or that the cars lack sufficient range, can turn off buyers considering a purchase from that automaker.

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