All around, a bad week for all-electric cars

Vice chairman of Japan's auto manufacturer Toyota Motor, Takeshi Uchiyamada, introduces the company's new four-seat compact electric vehicle called the "eQ," which achieves the world's highest electric consumption rate, at the company's showroom in Tokyo.

It’s been a tough week for the electric-vehicle sector.

At Toyota, vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada says “there are many difficulties.” He spoke of the pure electric vehicle Toyota had planned to sell to the tune of several thousand a year. The new goal: 100.

"The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs,” Uchiyama says. “Whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

One big problem across the industry: e-vehicles cost too much, says Sam Jaffe at IDC Energy Insight.

“They have to price them lower,” Jaffe says. “And that includes getting production capacity up to be able to make them cheaper.”

Also this week, Consumer Reports gave Fisker’s luxury plug-in hybrid an F grade. It reads:

“The Karma falls short with: poor dash controls, limited visibility, a cramped interior, awkward access into and out of the seats, an engine that is noisy when running, long battery recharge times, and a small backseat and trunk. The Karma's heavy, SUV-like weight affects agility and performance, and the Karma lacks the oomph you would expect. Tesla also targets the rich eco-set. But supplier delays have slowed its rollout.”

Another brand chasing the wealthy eco-set: Tesla. The thing is, this week it noted supplier delays are slowing the rollout of its $57,000 e-vehicle.

What’s it add up to? Jaffe sees natural growing pains in the infant e-vehicle sector. But Tim Dunne at J.D. Power and Associates see a fundamental question of electric vehicle viability.

“After working on it for 100 years, are we going to see a breakthrough,” Dunne says. “or are we trying to fit a round peg into a square hole?”

He says if batteries can go longer and charge faster, maybe the pieces fit together.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...