Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why? Why are electric vehicles so expensive? Will the Ford Focus EV be more affordable?

We stand at a crossroads. Many of us are intrigued by the thought of owning an electric car, or maybe an electric motorcycle. But, besides the relatively limited range of these vehicles, another troubling factor which may prevent these vehicles from being adopted into the mainstream is the price versus their current fossil fuel burning, competition. Then there is the performance hit. Sure, sure, they accelerate quickly, but they are woefully lacking in top end performance. So, let's review. These vehicles are often as expensive, if not more expensive than their gasoline burning counterparts. Their performance is limited by the immaturity of their technology. And right now they do not seem to be available at any of the dealers close to me, here in the Puget Sound. For example if I wanted to buy a Brammo Enertia Plus for $8,995, I would have to drive about 475 miles, and then, unless I want to spend the better part of a week riding it home, I either have to have it shipped for several hundred dollars, or I have to bring it home on a trailer. For half the money I can get a new Honda CBR250R for $4,299 with ABS, so less than half the price of a Brammo Enertia Plus. And I can milk at least 60 MPG out of the fuel tank. However, if I want to help usher in the age of electric vehicles, and emit zero emissions, I really should buy the Brammo, or a Zero Electric motorcycle !

Let's hope that Ford gets it right and prices the Ford Focus EV under $30,000. Well under $30,000. I believe that Ford has the financial wherewithal to not try to recoup their R&D and tooling startup costs on the wallets of their prospective customers. Not withstanding their very green profile [although maybe not so green when you check the manufacturing flowcharts],electric vehicles, given their current limited performance and range, should be priced much, much, lower. That is only a given if these companies want to have their vehicles purchased in significant numbers which would help these companies succeed robustly, and avoid becoming just another short-lived footnote in the history of human transportation. It's ashamed that many of these companies were not, apparently, financed to a stronger position, so as not to have to rely on the pricing of their products to try and recoup their initial investments. They also need to start fleshing out their dealer network. I have many motorcycle dealers lined up here in the Puget Sound who are interested in becoming dealers, but the price-point needs to be affordable, their margin needs to allow them to make some money, they need to be able to get their technicians trained, and parts need to be plentiful. The warranty service structure needs to also be robust. If they can achieve all of these milestones, then they just may succeed !

1 comment:

  1. Did you see NY Times article on "illegal" electric bicycles flourishing in city?
    People are going to shops to have them custom built.