Blackout! “Father of the Prius” isn’t bullish on electric cars
By David Menzies for MSN Autos
Alas, much like the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday, it looks like the much-hyped albeit never realized “electric car revolution” has blown a fuse, too.
Just don’t blame this power failure on Beyonce’s halftime show.
According to a Brietbart report, hybrid car pioneer and so-called “Father of the Toyota Prius” Takeshi Uchiyamada, says the billions of dollars poured into developing battery electric vehicles have been in vain.
“Because of its shortcomings – driving range, cost, and recharging time – the electric vehicle is not a viable replacement for most conventional cars," says Uchiyamada. "We need something entirely new."
Uchiyamada’s comments come as the U.S. Department of Energy announced last week that the government is backing off President Barack Obama’s promise to put one million electric cars on American roads by 2015. With good reason: such a deadline is preposterous given there are only about 30,000 cars on American roads today.
President Obama made promotion of electric vehicles a key component of his green initiative. Last fall, the Congressional Budget Office reported that federal policies to prop-up and promote electric cars will cost taxpayers US$7.5 billion until the end of the decade.
In the meantime, the lack of critical mass consumer interest in e-cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf all boils down to price.
Case in point: consider that the Volt has a base price of US$39,995 (or $41,545 in Canada). The gas-sipping Chevrolet Cruze (which is almost the same size as the Volt) starts at $15,495 in Canada– about $26,000 cheaper than the Volt. Translation: even at $1.30+/litre, $26,000 buys a lot of gas over the lifetime of a car.
What’s even more shocking is that last year Reuters reported that General Motors posted a US$49,000 loss for each new Volt it produces – an amount that is actually greater than the sticker price of the car. Ouch.
Bottom line: until prices plummet and battery technology ramps up significantly, the future of the e-car will prove far from electrifying. In fact, there may be no real future for such a vehicle at all.