A weakening of the electric vehicle (EV) market seems to be going on. Are we seeing less EVs coming onto the market this year?
Here’s a quick test. Think quickly, how many new EVs are coming out this year? Not as many as three or four years ago. It’s strange to see how only a few years ago, every car manufacturer had some sort of electric car, motorcycle or three-wheeler in the works. Today, most of the EVs have already hit the road. BMW and Volkswagen are the exception this year, respectively with the BMW i3 and the electric Golf with its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant. Although, we can look forward to Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, that won’t be until 2015.
It seems we are seeing less enthusiasm for EVs from the mainstream carmakers over the past few years. We clearly recall the exuberance of 2008 as the economy crashed, sending a chilling effect to carmakers’ bottom line. No one bought cars, and all of the sudden the ever electric car reluctant industry had something in store for us. But, where are all these EVs today? Is the industry going back to its old ways rehashing old cars with a lighter touch?
Where is the EV love?
The EV love is still with its current drivers and fans worldwide. After an enthusiastic early period, it seems carmakers have produced a few EVs, some of which turned out to be California compliant cars… and that’s it.
There is nothing wrong with building California compliant cars to meet the state’s stricter emission standards. After all, early models serve as test beds for new technologies and pave the way for the introduction of the next and more complete vehicle iterations. Without the Mini E and the Active E, BMW would never have developed the BMW i3. Yet, when we get down to it, press releases for electric vehicles have dwindled. The only exceptions right now are giants like Tesla Motors, VW, and BMW, while smaller plays like Lightning Motorcycles, Zero Motorcycles and a few other companies continue to innovate.
BMW, VW, Zero Motorcycles, Brammo and Lightning Motorcycle.
Do you see the trend here? Most of this year’s new EVs will come from Germany, a country once staunchly against anything electric. The other trend is one the general media rarely picks up, electric motorcycles. If you read CarNewsCafe, you know that electric motorcycles are one of our passions and hot topics. The electric motorcycle segment of the industry hasn’t slowed down one iota. Zero Motorcycles continues to refine their Zero lines, as well as Brammo. Another electric motorcycle maker I’m highly looking forward to announcing is Pikes Peak’s winner from last year, Lightning Motorcycles. The company is getting close to releasing a commercial version of their race bike, which will be “as close” as it gets to what they raced at Pikes Peak.
So is the softening of the EV market only with domestic electric cars? We will see more German electric cars this year and electric motorcycles than anything else. It makes us wonder, are carmakers dropping the ball, preferring improving and spending R&D money on gasoline cars?