Hooniverse Asks- Have All-Electric Cars Reached a Critical Mass of Acceptance?

Electric cars have been around since the dawn of the automotive age. Back in the early days, electric cars – owing to their relative ease of use and demeanor – were marketed as cars for the ladies. That’s perhaps still the case in some instances, as I was once told by Jay Leno that out of his whole collection, his wife’s favorite car was a 1910 Baker Electric.
Over the years the fans of electric cars have grown, but mostly in the home brew crowd, an eclectic bunch who are more interested in building their own silent but deadly rides, and cornering the market on lead-acid batteries. Major manufacturers embracing the electric-only car is something that is only a few years old, but with battery technology improving steadily, and wealthy supporters like Elon Musk providing the backing, it may just be that the electric car’s time has come, and not just for the ladies.
Nissan, Ford, Fiat, Honda and of course Tesla have been at the vanguard of this surge in electric cars offered for sale. And it seems that every year brings a new manufacturer on board with their own battery-powered offering. The question is, will this explosion in electric cars last, or is this just a bubble that will eventually burst when owners find out in a couple of years what it costs to replace their precious power supplies? What do you think, are electric cars a fad, or is this their time to shine?
Image: mlifelounge

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  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    Is it really an explosion, in real sales numbers? I am throughly impressed by Tesla, yet I just wait for the funds to dry up. Here in Norway, electric cars are as heavily subsidised as other cars are taxed. Accordingly, Tesla was the #1 seller for a while, and whereever you go, you’ll find a Leaf driving just under the speed limit or an i3 cheekily going 5 kph above it. But what happens when the well of free funding dries up?
    The technology itself is fascinating. I have just ordered a full service on my Honda which will set me back 800$. There’s a lot of fluids and filters here that the electric crowd has no relationship to at all. With all these cars on the road, people also see that it can be done: You can get reliably from A to B for years with electric cars.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Sorry that the edit function has, sort of…dried up.

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        As has preview of existing replies… I thought I had the first reply to this post, wrote my reply, posted it, and then the dozen or so prior replies loaded.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Firefox? Excited to see a dozen unseen answers after I’ve posted this.

  2. Lokki Avatar

    I think a semantic distinction is called for here. Pure electric cars have reached the critical mass of acceptance but will forever remain a niche market vehicle. The people buying Tesla are making vanity purchases – someone who is buying a $100,000 vehicle certainly isn’t really worried about the price of gasoline, and is probably educated enough to realize the computer doesn’t exist yet that could measure the improvement to the environment that a thousand Tesla will make. Volt and Leaf et al sales seem to have settled to their sustainable level.
    Now the Hybrid is a different story. They require no compromises on the part of the owner/operator and, thanks to the success of the Prius, have proven reliability and reasonable price. I would predict a bright future for the hybrid.

  3. Devin Avatar

    Depends where you are, to be honest. Here they can’t even give away plug in hybrids – both dealerships that tried to sell one just gave up and made it their shuttle car – and nobody has bought anything electric. They’ve got a real uphill battle outside of urban areas.

  4. karonetwentyc Avatar

    The electric car bubble is likely to burst when governments stop subsidising their purchase. When they have to compete based on actual price with other vehicles, we’ll see a sharp drop in uptake.

  5. p161911 Avatar

    The true test is going to be the used electric market in 2 or 3 years. Here in Georgia, if you have decent credit you can lease a new Nissan Leaf and it ends up being somewhere between ridiculously cheap and free after tax credits and gas savings. In the affluent suburbs, it isn’t uncommon to see 3 or 4 Leafs at one stoplight. I wonder what is going to happen to these when they go off lease.

  6. brazilreporter Avatar

    I consider them shocking!

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Is that your current opinion?

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I knew electric cars would be met with resistance on here.

        1. Lokki Avatar

          Why,er,, Resistance to electric cars? That’s a strong charge, sir. I happen to have one at ohm!

      2. Vairship Avatar

        Yes, they are truly reVolting.

  7. Maymar Avatar

    I think without a huge increase in the supercharger network that already exists, or further improvements in range and battery technology, or an absurd increase in the price of gas, it’ll still be on the fringe.
    There aren’t many conversations about electric cars that don’t boil down to “well, I can’t take it on a road trip, and in one day, I might have to drive from New York to Boston, and then pick my kids up from daycare, and then drop them off at space camp ON THE MOON, and then I have to pick up groceries, and my spouse really prefers when I get our produce and meat right from each individual farm, and then I might have to run to a movie after that, and what if I get stranded!”

    1. SteveLevin Avatar

      In the northeast, I would think winter would make people think. I can’t speak for other cars than the Volt, which is what I have, but over this winter — and I live where we consider 40 degrees to be brutally cold — I saw my electric range drop by about 30%. Drop the temps another 15 degrees, and I bet you find yourself getting pretty personal with that seat cushion at about half normal range if you don’t have a power source onboard. And get stuck on a slick road for 10 or 15 more minutes while they drag some other idiot out of an accident? Gonna take Vise-Grips to pull that seat cushion back out of your hindquarters for sure.
      Another scenario is that your do a little running around, forget to plug in because one of your kids just released something more akin to the weapon of Saddam’s dreams than anything that should ever come out of a living thing, and then, voila! — no commute for you! With the generator, the Volt can get the commute done…if I had a Leaf, for example, “no commute for you!”
      Now, if reasonably priced cars appear with a nominal 200 mile range for $30,000, they might take off. But otherwise, I just don’t know that the market will ever be the size of a single year’s F-150 sales.

  8. MattC Avatar

    The biggest hurdle is with range. I know this is an often derided comment to the electric car crowd, but I really am not knocking them. However, in the congested mixing bowl of NOVa/DC/Maryland market, I want an electric car that will have at least 200miles of range. Why that figure? I commute 40-50 miles each way. I also have to account for the inevitable slowdown/accident/ mysterious construction at odd hours that 495 offers. So a 90 -100 mile range vehicle might just be stretching it during cold (range snapping) weather.
    However, for my wife’s commute (less than 4 miles each way), these would be ideal. I think Tesla/Leaf are the first real viable salvos into this arena. The Chevy Bolt (current subject to change name) will be a gamechanger if GM can keep the range and price within promise.
    As an aside, I did drive a Tesla at an event (although I am clearly not in the target demo) was really impressed. The Tesla cars came from Tysons Corner Va. up to Hunt Valley during rush hour. Then were allowed to be driven a short but fast loop in side streets, then drove back to Tysons Corner (still with plenty of range left). I also see many Nissan Leafs in my area and the owners I spoke to love them.

  9. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    In some areas electrics are definitely mainstream. I have friend who is on his second Nissan leaf since he sidestepped the battery issue by leasing. The parking lots at work are full of Leafs, Volts, Think City’s, the occasional Tesla and a smattering of newer electrics and plug ins like Fiat 500s, BMW i3s and Ford Fusions. I think electrics are now seen as a reasonable choice for local use and plugins for mixed use.

    1. lee colleton Avatar
      lee colleton

      Electrics work great as a daily driver. Having a car-sharing option can bridge the gap for the occasional longer trip, especially for those who live with a paucity of public EV charging. Here in Seattle, I do nearly all of my driving in an i-MiEV which is a bit pokey on the freeway but I usually drive on city streets where the nimble handling and tight parking is key. When I got my EV, I hung on to my TDI Jetta for longer trips. That car is usually rented out on RelayRides to people who are visiting the city and want a cheaper rental option. Sometimes I take a trip with it myself, but I’d rather save money on fuel & maintenance and spend a few minutes here and there using the CHAdeMO quick chargers with my Mitsu.