Electric Vehicle Update

Tesla continues to grab the headlines, but how are EVs and PHEVs really doing?

Year over year, the sale of EVs and PHEVs have increased by 29.7%.

Interestingly, the YOY sale of Hybrids has been a negative 8.7%.

Here are year-to-date sales for 2014.

US Sales of Electric Vehicles, Including HEVs YTD 2014

Hybrids (HEVs)

PHEVs

Battery (BEVs)

Total for EVs & PHEVs

January

27,085

2,934

2,971

5,905

February

30,561

3,721

3,324

7,045

March

43,790

4,594

4,578

9,172

April

39,430

4,718

4,187

8,905

May

52,227

6,651

5,802

12,453

June

39,225

6,511

4,982

11,493

July

44,488

5,740

5,693

11,433

August

48,208

5,920

6,483

12,403

September

31,385

3,357

5,983

9,340

Total

356,399

44,146

44,003

88,149

2013 YTD

389,725

32,718

35,261

67,979

YOY %

-8.6%

34.9%

24.8%

29.7%

While a 29.7% increase for EVs and PHEVs seems impressive, the absolute numbers should be very discouraging for those who support these types of vehicles.

When these vehicles were introduced, it was expected that there would be 1,000,000 sold by the end of 2015. This was the forecast made by President Obama.

Total cumulative sales since these vehicles were introduced in 2011 are:

PHEVs = 139,409

EVs = 116,012

Total EVs and PHEVs, 2011 – 2014 ytd = 255,421

Even if sales were to increase 30% every year, it wouldn’t be until 2020 that there would be one million of these vehicles on the road. This should be compared with the 250 million cars and light trucks currently on the road, to gain a perspective on the value of EVs and PHEVs in reducing the consumption of oil, or reducing CO2 emissions.

Volt and Leaf
Volt and Leaf

It also brings into question whether the proposed $5 billion dollar battery factory will be a sound investment, or a good use of tax payer subsidies with perhaps $1.5 billion in subsidies from Nevada alone.

The factory is being built to support the sale of 500,000 EVs per year, by 2020.

It’s important to recognize that HEVs, such as the Prius, are not the same as EVs and PHEVs.

They do not recharge their batteries from the grid and have no effect on the grid, whereas EVs and PHEVs do affect the grid as explained in the next article.

HEVs use electric motors to improve the overall efficiency of a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. HEVs use gasoline, or diesel fuel, as the primary source of energy for propelling the vehicle.

This is different from EVs, which are designed to use only batteries and eliminate the use of gasoline, and PHEVs, which are intended to use battery power for commuting distances. EVs have a range of around 100 miles, while PHEVs have a range of around 35 miles on battery power, and use an auxiliary internal combustion engine to allow the PHEV to travel longer distances.

Some commentators mistakenly combine HEVs, EVs and PHEVs when describing electric vehicles. This distorts the actual market penetration of cars that rely on battery power, either exclusively, such as the Tesla, an EV, or for commuting distances, such as the GM Volt, a PHEV.

Half of the EVs sold so far this year have reportedly been the Nissan Leaf. Tesla doesn’t report its sales by country, so Tesla’s U.S. sales are unknown.

Starting prices are around $29,000 for the Nissan Leaf and $69,000 for the Tesla S. Tesla is betting that the new giga factory can bring the cost of the Lithium-ion battery down by 30%, so that its new lower-price model can be competitive.

Whether this is achievable will have to be seen.

So far, EVs and PHEVs have been toys for the rich and famous, with middle class families subsidizing these purchases with tax payer dollars.

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3 Replies to “Electric Vehicle Update”

  1. Um, Teslas have ranges from 200-300 miles, and growing. And are the fastest sedans on the planet. Their charging needs are mostly met at night, when utilities are begging for users.

    They have no meaningful competition.

  2. While specifics on the plan, such as which cities and regions it will target and what models of vehicle the charging points would be compatible with, are yet to be revealed, the disclosure on the amount of funding is the latest in a line of events to suggest that China is looking to make itself the major market for electric transport. On the public side, the government has already provided tax breaks to domestic EV manufacturers BYD and Kandi Technologies Group as part of its attempts to cut carbon emissions and boost environmental sustainability.

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