Electric vehicles as a clean technology movement have been in a holding pattern of late, if not a downright spiral. Sales are generally down from last year, battered by cheap gas prices and a lack of new models to excite consumers. Without advancements in the models, the broader consumer base is either unaware of EV benefits or cowed by perceived deficiencies (cost and range, mainly) of current EV options.
But that dynamic, I believe, is about to change.
New models are set to hit the roads this fall and winter that will likely start a new wave of EV buying. Most prominently, Tesla is finally talking to customers about designs for the new electric SUV, the Model X, set to release in limited production this month. The falcon-winged bad boy starts north of $130,000 though for the premium model, so sales will once again be aimed at the top 1% of us.
Chevy’s new Volt will also arrive this fall, complete with a marketing blitz. Early reviews sound positive, as the car looks better, drives longer on the battery (over 50 miles), and gets better gas mileage the few times you actually need it. Not to mention the new Nissan LEAF should be out soon, with possibly 120-mile range — a significant boost from the current 85-mile range.
When you add it up, the major EV automakers are set to introduce major upgrades to their products. While it’s harder to compete with cheap gas, EVs offer inherent benefits of a better and cleaner drive, lower maintenance costs, and the ability to drive for virtually free if you have solar PV on your roof. Plus, it’s the most important thing you can do for the environment if you have to drive.
So my guess is we’re in a holding pattern before some good news comes out on EV deployment. EVs won’t get to mass-market level for maybe another decade or so, but we’re getting there in big leaps, and this fall we should start to see another one take shape.