A Virtual World of Live Pictures.

It’s been a few years since a number of electric saloons started receiving rave reviews, particularly of course the Tesla range.

Not only were they generating good performance numbers, but things like their range and reload times seemed to indicate that they were practical. Thus, it was no longer necessary to think about making a trip of 500 kilometers in several stages and for several days, to recharge or change the battery.

Go back say 5 years and everyone predicted that by now, we would all be deafened by the silence of our roads as everything changed to a quiet buzz. The strange car with a combustion engine would be viewed with disgust or sympathy and we would all have clean air around us as a benefit too.

However, it has not happened. Why is that?

The price rears its ugly head

Some of the most admired electric cars, and the ones that are often the most attractive in terms of range and performance, are still very expensive.

Some models retail for around $100,000. Even for the big companies and prestigious limousine rental companies, these are prices that will make anyone blink when they read those ads.

True, there are also more modest cars. That’s good news, but then things start to get complicated in terms of battery ‘issues’ (rented, owned, life expectancy, trade-in periods), etc. Some commentators have observed that it takes a Ph.D. in mathematics to try to work out what the ‘bottom line’ is and when you get there it’s suddenly smaller because it doesn’t look that ‘small’ in terms of price.


For much of the mass market, performance is a secondary issue. Yes, you can drool over the Tesla-S and other brands so prestigious that they can hit 60 mph before you even get in the car, but in reality, such performance is completely irrelevant in most driving environments, whether urban or suburban. .

Joe’s audience may get excited about the performance figures of a Ferrari, but that doesn’t mean they will (or can) buy one.

What the typical buyer wants to know in terms of electric car performance is:

  • Will this vehicle handle steep hills?

  • How will you handle traffic jams in terms of energy consumption?

  • What is its autonomy before needing a recharge?

  • How long will it take to recharge?

Now surprisingly, while these questions aren’t exactly rocket science, hard numbers aren’t easy to come by when looking at many electric car advertisements. When you see them, things start to sound awfully like the “old days” for electric vehicles.

Complete tables of data begin to appear. For example, figures that indicate a car’s range before recharging is 250 miles/400 km may not sound too impressive. They certainly sound like a less impressive loss again (bordering on fear) when little warnings are attached saying things like “may be less in winter“. Many ordinary buyers will want to leave the house in bad weather knowing that they will arrive there, not leave in a”lets wait and see what happens” base.

Too many of the figures for electric vehicles are fluid bordering on ethereal and there are too many qualifiers. Another example is recharge times, which often cite a multiplicity of options depending on what your power source is. Some seem reasonable at say 3 hours, but then you realize you don’t know what the special charger means. Others sound comically unrealistic like “21 hours off a normal plug“.

Try to explain to your boss that you will be late tomorrow because your car will be charging!


A final observation related to the inhibitors in the mass adoption of electric cars is that some of the advertising websites are almost incomprehensible.

The typical mass-market new car buyer wants to see clear options that say “Model X = $.” Sure, we all understand that some things are configurable, like motor size, color scheme, etc., plus they’ll all have price implications.

However, what people probably don’t want to think about is that when they go to your showroom they will need to bring along a QC, an engineer, a statistician and an accountant to interpret all the various options related to batteries, performance variables, recharge rates and so on.

Until electric vehicles become cheaper, advertising and pricing are easier to understand, and, above all, their charging rates improve, their uptake is likely to be limited to niche market segments.

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