Editor’s note: This introduction comes from the Multi-state ZEV action plan issued by the Sierra Club. It should be of some interest to the wind industry, because EVs will increase demand for utility scale generated power. For the full plan click here.
Twenty-two plug-in electric vehicle models from nine manufacturers are expected to be available for sale or lease in 2014. Thirteen models run entirely on batteries and nine are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can run on gasoline as well as the battery. A number of these models are not currently offered for sale in all ZEV states. One hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle model is currently available for lease in California and another two are expected beginning in model year 2015. The number and type of models available will continue to increase as manufacturers develop a portfolio of ZEV technologies to match their full product lines, which will further enhance consumer choice and market growth.
Significant progress is being made to overcome the primary obstacles to the development of a robust ZEV market: consumer acceptance, availability of fueling infrastructure, and vehicle cost.
A recent National Academy of Sciences report concluded, “Most potential PEV customers have little knowledge of PEVs and almost no experience with them. Lack of familiarity with the vehicles and their operation and maintenance creates a substantial barrier to widespread PEV deployment.”
Some dealers have been reluctant to aggressively market PEVs, citing a greater time commitment required to sell them and lower profit margins compared to conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines.
However, the new generation of plug-in electric cars is receiving high grades from consumers who purchase them. Drivers rate the overall quality and appeal of PEVs more highly than ICE vehicles across a wide range of criteria.
Consumer interest and ZEV sales are growing concurrent with the availability of top-rated models from an increasing number of manufacturers. In 2011, the Chevy Volt was named the ‘Motor Trend Car of the Year,’ with Motor Trend stating, “This automobile is a game-changer.” The Volt also won the Automobile Magazine ‘Automobile of the Year’ and ‘North American Car of the Year’ awards, and was included in the Car and Driver ‘10Best’ list. The Nissan Leaf was named the ‘World Car of the Year’ and the ‘European Car of the Year’ in 2011, and was noted in the Popular Mechanics ‘Breakthrough Awards’ of 2010, which stated that “the real triumph lies in its family-car practicality and normalcy.” For 2013, the Tesla Model S was named ‘Automobile of the Year’ by Automobile Magazine, the ‘Motor Trend Car of the Year,’ and Consumer Reports awarded the Model S a score of 99 out of a possible 100 in the magazine’s tests, the highest score any automobile has received.
The availability of high quality vehicles that consumers like to drive resulted in more PEVs being sold in the past year than in all previous years combined. The United States has the largest fleet of plug-in electric vehicles in the world. In their third full year of sales – 2013 – about 96,000 PEVs were sold nationally, nearly double 2012 sales of 53,000 and more than five times first year sales of 17,500 in 2011. Sales of full battery electric vehicles increased by more than 330%, from 14,251 in 2012 to 47,694 in 2013.
Automobile manufacturers offer a variety of pure battery electric, hybrid, and “assist system” models that provide growing consumer choice. The all-electric capacity for current models ranges from about 10 miles per charge to more than 250 miles. Plug-in hybrids and gasoline assist models are available for those needing a greater range or interested in enhanced flexibility.
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