EV commercial viability debated
Your article describing the General Motors EV-1 electric vehicle–“EVs entering commercial market, but they aren`t that competitive yet,” in December 1996–thoroughly described the product but completely missed the point.
The automobile industry, government and electric utilities are investing billions of dollars to accelerate the commercialization of the nascent EV technology. The roughly 14 quadrillion Btu in energy sales per year to fuel automobiles, light-duty trucks and buses represent one of the largest long-term market opportunities for electricity. And most important, customers love driving these cars!
True, market penetration will be slow in the early years due primarily to relatively high prices. However, competition will drive prices down, and the technology will improve as the car companies position themselves to be leaders in clean, advanced automobile technology.
Building a long-term, sustainable market for a new generation of vehicles does not happen overnight–be patient and enjoy the ride.
Edison Electric Institute
I think your article on the EV-1 (in the December 1996 issue) missed the mark. The market for electric vehicles and the developing technology is clearly not a mass market and will require some time to become a mass market. It is very narrow niche, and the product and market segment is still developmental.
The product can be easily differentiated from other cars, much more easily than say the RX-7 can be differentiated from the Mustang. The manufacturing process is unique and new. The sales are very dependent at this stage of promotion. I do not believe that sales efforts are critical for this product, and its niche as the potential buyers are upper-income types who do not respond to high-pressure sales favorably. The product should not be and is not a mass-market product. The learning curve for the manufacturing, establishment of marketing channels, the infrastructure and the user perception of the vehicle are too new to support a mass market.
There are markets for cars that are in this price category, and many such buyers would not class themselves as “deep pockets,” though they probably make more money than most of us. This is not the Model T of the electric car industry. The world is not ready for the Model T electric, or as I have heard it called the “Model E,” but it is a step forward for the industry. As a Southern Californian, I certainly appreciate the environment aspect of the car and am very glad GM took this step.
Fredric C. Fletcher
Burbank Public Service Department