Factory built electric car sales are slumping, and according to an article by High Gear Media’s John Voelcker, it’s the Nissan Leaf that’s enduring this year’s major slump. At present, US sales equate to just 600 a month or less.
In fact only 3,148 Leafs were sold in the first half of 2012, which is fewer than the 3,875 cars delivered during the same time in 2011.
So what’s the hold up? Why, when we need electric cars more than ever, are the sales slumping? Is it because people don’t think electric cars are sexy enough?
I would love to surprise you, but the truth is, you already know the answer: Factory built electric cars are still far too expensive.
Sure, if you live in the USA and can somehow get to the front of the queue and afford an entry-level Tesla Model S for $50k USD then that’s great – and heck, we’d all like one, but out here in reality land these cars are just too expensive.
They will come down in price, that is certain, just like VHS players did, just like DVD players did, and just like Blu-Ray players did.
The big difference between electric cars and those household appliances is that the appliances were non-essentials that could wait. Cars that don’t use any gas on the other hand are essentials to replace today’s very expensive gasoline.
Gas is not going to get cheaper, period. Therefore we need electric cars now, well before they’ve had the chance to start falling in price. This is where the frustration is. If we didn’t need them so badly, people wouldn’t care about the price tag or the endlessly long wait for their prices to fall.
So what can you do if you can’t afford an electric car? You have two options:
1: Hunt around the second hand market for an older, used factory-built electric car. Some car makers like Citroen and Volkswagen made trial versions of electric cars in the 90′s which they sold to the public then cancelled. These cars are hard to come by, and typically the battery packs are beyond repair, but it’s the closest thing you or I can get to a factory-built EV in a short amount of time.
2: Convert a car to run on electricity yourself. Yes, you saw this one coming. The conversion market is going stronger than ever right now. Many folks I’ve spoken to were in the “I’ll wait for the prices to come down” park. Now, two years later they’re seeing that the prices on factory built electric cars aren’t moving one bit, so they’ve got into their garages and begun conversions. As you’ve heard me harp on about many times, it’s not a complicated process and you can do it with a basic set of tools and a handful of spare weekends. That’s how I did it, and subsequently that’s how most others are doing it too.
In the meantime we have some certainties to rely on: Death, taxes, and gas price hikes.