At the end of December, 2013, we saw total PEV domestic sales topping 95,000 units- an increase of 89% over the previous year, clearly establishing an exponential sales curve for the past three years. PEV sales rates exceeded those of HEVs when compared to the first three years of introduction. Sales were evenly divided between all battery electrics, like the LEAF, and extended range electric vehicles, like the Volt. “Huzzah!” became the cry from those of us involved in the industry. But is everything really rosy? Is the struggle to bring EVs back to life over?
There are warning signs that all is not as it should be or could be. Closer view reveals several recurring and troubling themes. Cars that are purposefully handicapped. Passive-aggressive marketing. Lukewarm autodealer involvement.
First we see a new set of industry participants, like Cadillac, whose new model is frankly lukewarm, overpriced, and poorly advertised. On the latter issue, the TV spot says NOTHING about the plug in feature and everything about certain American demographics to be classist and out of touch with the virtues of electric transportation. Do we need to be told that we must forgo a vacation in order to purchase a PHEV? The messaging is so misdirected, it makes one wonder if GM has a tin ear when it comes to the driving force behind EVs. In fact the ad prompted some really excellent responses- including this one by Ford.