So now, in 2013, how are things looking for the electric car – or better said – how are things looking for the electric car INDUSTRY?
Well according to this article that appeared in Newsday and several other media outlets: “Sales of plug-in electric cars -- both hybrids and battery electrics -- tripled in model year 2012, their second year on the market.”
That’s from about 17,500 cars in 2011 to about 53,000 cars in 2012. And these are figures just for the US. Worldwide, plug-in electric car sales came in closer to 120,000 units.
The Newsday story – based on a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists -- also provides this surprising observation: “Despite the political rhetoric of the election year, the most popular electric-drive vehicle, the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, is outselling half of all cars on the market today.”
I dunno. Usually when sales triple that’s a hint of success, an indication of positive momentum.
Yes, the electric car segment remains vastly smaller than the gas-powered car segment. But everybody knows it will take years, maybe even a couple decades, for the world auto industry to flip to a completely different way of powering cars.
Well, maybe not everybody. Media pundits and political hacks made a lot of hay creating false expectations then blasting electric car makers for falling short. Did a few electric car true believers set themselves up for criticism by overstating the expected pace of adoption? Yep. But through all of the smoke and mirrors, level-headed people have continued to agree that electric cars are the future – and that future is beginning right now.
"Detractors declare failure if the new technology is not leading the race right out of the gate or when expected bumps in the road materialize," the Union of Concerned Scientists says in its report. "They also use unrealistic marketing goals as a yardstick for the success of EVs rather than looking at the real progress that has been made."
It is worth noting that electric car sales grew even though there was no great panic about gas prices, which rose only slightly in 2012 compared to the year before. In Cincinnati, gas prices stayed well below $4 a gallon for most of the year. (A lot of people think electric car sales will explode should gas prices reach and stay above $4 a gallon. There's something almost mystical about that threshhold.)
Meanwhile, people with real money on the line – such as car makers – continue to invest in electric cars and supporting infrastructure. Several new models were sold in 2012, including offerings from Toyota, Ford and others. More new models are coming out in 2013.
Meanwhile, as of November 2012, Europe had about 15,000 public charging stations and the United States had about 14,000. Those numbers will grow as sales grow and will be further boosted by recent agreements on standardized plugs to be used by multiple car manufacturers.
Bottom line, electric cars are here and they are here to stay. I've even seen Leafs and Volts on the streets of stodgy old Cincinnati. Not many, but they are out there.
I’m looking forward to buying one! And it might be the electric Fiat 500 pictured above. Fun car!