The Joys of Fantasy and the Sharp Edge of Truth

This week’s show is kind of a hodge podge. Again we are heat limited in Missouri as to actually doing very much.

We completed the rear battery boxes on the eCobra and moved to the belly boxes on each side of the vehicle behind the exhaust pipes. We did do a bit of cable work with the 2/0 shielded cable we’ve adopted to limit noise. I repeatedly call this TWO AWG in the video. Not sure why. It was always 2/0 and in fact that’s mostly what we’ve used for electric cars over the past years.

The underside of a car is a handy place to put cells out of the way and has been a tradition for many years. We have a 1994 van with all cells mounted underneath in a rack that hangs so low as to make the vehicle look impractical, which it probably is. Even the Tesla Model S has all batteries slung underneath.

The question of course comes up – what happens when it rains? I don’t have an answer actually. It’s kind of a moot point in an open cockpit roadster methinks. But a curious question nonetheless.

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We actually did inherit a Ford Edge that was such a mess I have not mentioned it. We’ve fixed a few things, but are a long way from having much. The automatic transmission lurches alarmingly at all speeds. It needs 600-700 watt-hours to careen a mile down the road. Weighs 5000 lbs. One of the things we found was a truly curious propensity to build battery racks out of angle iron that lips over the top edge of the cells. This is quite heavy, quite strong, and secures the batteries quite famously. Unfortunately, it brings the frame iron within a tiny fraction of an inch of the terminals and I view all this with abject horror. Please don’t do this. It is a very effective technique for lead acid or AGM 6 or 12v cells, and it is probably suicidal with LiFePo4 cells. In this case, one rack underneath had the cells laying on edge facing forward with the terminals toward the front of the car and entirely open. Kind of like a battery snow plow using the terminals to break up the snow. I’ve never seen such a mess.

We’re gradually working some of the issues off this monster SUV, and my wife has curiously fallen in love with it, so I’m letting her drive it, but every time I see it lurching and careening down the road I wince.

In the case of the eCobra belly pans, they are enclosed. The cell terminals are actually quite distanced from the box walls. And in fact we have a piece of Weyerhauser Colorfast Deck to cover the terminals inside the box. This is a recycled plastic decking used for porches. It has enormous dielectric and of course physical strength. It’s a little heavy for this purpose, but quite effective.

The boxes do have external terminals. We put a boot on them, but they are I guess open to the elements if placed underwater. I suppose we could do a placard DO NOT RACE THIS CAR IN FLOODED AREAS across the trunk. But I really don’t know what would happen.

We do talk a bit about the OEM sales numbers. I’ve already been corrected by viewers who have accepted “spokesperson” numbers from the OEMs as being more accurate than mine. I don’t know quite how to react. I am frankly skeptical of any company that HAS an employee who’s title is “spokesperson”. In many companies, the CEO is the “spokesperson” almost by definition. In those that have dedicated professional “spokespersons” there is actually a reason. They are very good at making barefaced lies look and sound very much like open truthfulness. That’s why they were hired for the position. It’s all a little circular.

EVTV has no “spokesperson.”

So why have I adopted this anti-OEM position? First, I just don’t like blatant dishonesty. It is annoying. And it’s not effective. It puts a company in an adversarial relationship with their customer base. Not good.

But I see damage from this particular set of realities. First, the Nissan Leaf is by all accounts an excellent electric vehicle. The Volt is gasoline powered, but as best I can tell, a technological marvel and a pleasure to drive and own I am sure. I have NOTHING against these vehicles per se and do not denigrate the efforts of some obviously enormously talented engineers who created them.

The price/value proposition is a little vague. And that’s a problem.

First, they are electric drive “conversions” in a sense. The Chevy Volt is essentially identical to the Chevy Cruze, but with the hybrid “range extender” drive train. The Chevy Cruze features a MSRP starting at $16,525 and gets 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. The Volt features an MSRP starting at $39,145 and claims 60 mpg. The problem of course being I could buy TWO Cruze models and still have $6075 left over, more than enough to buy gasoline for BOTH of them for about a year and a half. Oh, and I still have to buy gasoline for the Volt.

????? What kind of thing is this? Is there any wonder GM sold 24,648 Cruze’s in July, and 125 Volts?

The spokesperson spin is just bizarre. First, Chevrolet is retooling to expand production to 60,000 units per year. But nearly a year ago they claimed they were expanding production capacity to 110,000 units per year. Like our Congress in reverse, Chevrolet is now professing a CUT of 50,000 units per year is an INCREASE. I need to hold a seminar on comparing numbers to determine which is larger and which is smaller. I think I could make a fortune just in auto executives and politicians.

GM actually sold 214,915 vehicles across the line in July. Volts of course comprising 0.0582 PERCENT of that total.

They also claimed that the Volts that were sold spend an average of 13 days at the dealers. Quite comical, this average does NOT include the Volts NOT sold. And there are plenty of them. A recent poll of Chevrolet dealers was discontinued after the researcher determined that ALL of the first few dozen he called indeed had Volts in stock awaiting drivers.

The “spokesperson” also claims they can sell all the Volts they can make. Of course they can. At some price. Some where. New cars just don’t go “unsold” forever. They are disposed of in some manner or other eventually.

Why am I on about this? We are largely shaped by the perceptions of the public, which is largely shaped by the broader news media. The next shoe to drop is the “What Happened to the Electric Car” story. The same group of reporters touting all of this for years now will turn about face without a BLINK (they are kind of like Spokespersons in this regard) and seize on the story of the “bloodbath” in electric vehicle sales complete with stories on stranded motorists who just didn’t make it home. Stay tuned. We are just weeks away from this.

And since it will then be proven irrefutably that American drivers do NOT want electric cars, we can move on to other tasks. The plans of automakers who didn’t get to market so fast can be “extended” and eventually back benched so far as to be effectively removed from play. And producing no electric cars, we’ll all sit back to await the fall in battery prices that will never occur because they won’t be producing any.

A dark scenario. All over a car that was never truly electric.

By establishing the value of the Cruze in the market, and offering the Volt at over twice the price, what is the value proposition to a buyer? Very poor. So how is this a good example of an electric car? Not to speak of it’s propensity to burn gasoline?

Won’t matter. It is what it is. Complete with plausible deniability. “We tried.”

This makes the ground harder to plow for any would-be participants including Tesla. But startups? The funding will dry up as if it were never there. Battery technology? Ditto.

This is REALLY most damaging. The higher the expectations, the more dashed the reality.

And in truth, these cars simply do not fit the business model of the automobile manufacturers. Nissan a year ago was braying like a donkey that they had the cost of the battery down to $9000. Last week they were quoted on a single module replacement in the UK at $682. As there are 48 modules in the pack, you are north of $31,000 replacement cost in a car priced at $32,768 – again roughly TWICE the cost of the identical car coming off the same production line that is NOT electric. This is an apparent 350% markup on the batteries. Guys, that is NOT an unusual markup by Mr. Goodwrench on an automobile part. And that IS part of their business model. Every fan belt, every filter, every spark plug, every gasket. It mounts up to a PILE of parts in the life of a car. And done at the dealership, it amounts to a HUGE amount of consumables and a lot of the profit in making the car.

Where is Tesla in all this. They’re kind of a clean sheet of paper. But you will recall that at one point in their development, they were purportedly selling a two seat sports car for $109,000. The problem was it was costing them $146,000 to make each car NOT counting R&D. And there’s no “consumable” downline except the battery pack. Most of the repair parts on the car would come from Lotus – whether or not you bought them through Tesla.

So they started over with the Model S. I believe that the people in this company truly believe in the electric car, and I have a deposit down on a Model S without even knowing what the pricing on the car is. Remarkably, 5600 other people have made the same leap of faith. But I have to wonder about the battery technology and what we do when they fail. A brand new $77,000 car with ZERO resale value? A $75,000 battery replacement cost? What?

In any event, the “early adopter” phase of electric cars would be marked in theory by a 2.5% market share. On our normal 15 million per year production, that’s 375,000 cars per year. That’s an achievable number. But it HAS to be made from cars that are appealing to early adopters. And $16,000 economy cars, complete with lipstick and high heels, just aren’t.

It might be counterintuitive, and even ironic, but I CAN afford $77,000 for an advanced technology all aluminum frame electric car with a 19 inch display and seating for 7 in a European sedan. I CANNOT afford $42,000 for a Chevrolet Cruze. This is the heart of the “value proposition” of which I speak.

David Hrivnak drove his EMIS Avalanche from Kingsport Tennessee to our facility to show what he’s done with this and make his case for his position as one of 10 finalists in the EVTV Build Your Dream EV contest. Unfortunately, while we did a complete walk around on this very interesting experiment, El BRAINO left the audio off on five walk around segments that are subsequently OMITTED from this week’s show. My most sincere apologies to Mr. Hrivnak, who nonetheless did a great job describing the project.

The blizzard of surreal is not limited to the cars. There are announcements daily, a blizzard of press releases, and the most GORGEOUS images on the World Wide Web, of componentry and technology for electric cars that extend belief. Tragically, they either do not EXIST, are a heroically stupid idea, a solution in search of a problem or all the above in some combination. Unobtanium punctuated by unnecessary in many cases.

I LOVE the idea of inductive charging. Have since Nicolas first proposed it. I would love to have a highway system replete with it. I can see it in my mind. What I cannot see is it in my garage. A 10% efficiency penalty works out to 15 cents for the eight seconds it takes to plug in a cord. That’s $67.50 per hour wage. If I offered a position for a qualified technician to go from garage to garage across the land plugging in cars, how many applicants would I get at $67.50 per hour? Answer: ALL of them.

Meanwhile, the very small scale tinkerers and innovators plug away in their garage, trying to get a 14 year old BMW to whisper into life and turn into a magic carpet. He thinks he’s alone. And he’s pretty sure it won’t work. He’s terrified of the batteries – their cost, their safety, and how to use them. He saved $2400 by not buying that hydraulic lift – already a serious mistake. The running gear and body is NOT quite in the shape he thought when he bought it. And he really doesn’t have much of a plan about that air conditioner.

And most discouraging of all, there are all these REAL engineers out there with REALLY COOL stuff like $35,000 AC drivetrains, inductive charging, wheel motors, highly engineered battery modules, and THEY really know what they are doing and can make cars that would be REALLY cool. You want proof? You can see it on the web…

How am I supposed to respond to this? You see, in my world, this guy is a hero, Netgain actually sells motors, batteries are GOOD things, and a Federal budget CUT is a SMALLER number….

That’s how VERY out of it I am.

We’re going to put our head down, make cars that drive like magic carpets, and videos that have some SERIOUS audio problems. And we’re going to keep doing all of that until we win. If it takes five years, I was hoping to live five years anyway. If it takes ten, I’ll have to quit smoking and lose a few pounds..

http://EVTV.me

31 thoughts on “The Joys of Fantasy and the Sharp Edge of Truth”

  1. Leigh – you beat me to it. I use their larger Electric Water Pump in my GT40 replica (which with a mid mounted 5 litre v8 and a radiator that is all below knee level would otherwise get thermally-challenged in stop-start traffic. This is the car I want to convert to an EV)

  2. My take on the LEAF battery cost comment, I think the quoted module replacement price was what it would cost a driver if they had to have a single module replaced, including labor. It’s like trying to price a motor by adding up all the parts costs and the labor to install them. Nissan knows if it tries to sell a customer a replacement pack at $31K that’s the end. Ghosn is too much of an EV advocate and Nissan/Renault has put too much money into EV and battery development to want to kill their own program.
    As for production numbers, I’ll ignore the Volt because it’s not an electric car, but Nissan has stated over 10K sold world wide, and we always forget about the Mitsubishi i Miev, which as of November 2010 had sold 5K. Still a drop in the bucket but substantially more than the 9K lithium vehicles you claim.

  3. I think you said 9k lithium powered vehicles world wide. With LEAF’s, Roadsters, i Miev’s, Renault’s, and who knows what else, that’s probably half the actual number.

  4. I don’t know how many roadsters, imiev and others, but I’ve been following the leaf and volt sales as tracked by a forum poster on mynissanleaf.com His numbers have been very accurate, so I do trust his sources.

    He does not show european leaf sales nor the ampera (volt). european leaf sales are only in the hundreds. Based totally on my “gut feel” from what I’ve read on the site and other news sources like…http://green.autoblog.com/2011/07/27/report-global-nissan-leaf-sales-top-10-100/

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-C_DrjgwVyzs/TjiavEQiXQI/AAAAAAAAAYE/ls9eKqiVKrI/s800/PlugInMonthlySales.png

    http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2883

  5. If I did JP, then I misspoke. The entire presentation was very CLEARLY U.S. sales and sales since March at that. The iMiev was never mentioned, and to my knowledge, not available in the U.S.

    I know this busts your bubble, but I strongly believe it to be true. If you want to quibble over extravagant sales to Ethiopia, and you take comfort in that, go girlfriend. It won’t change the story six months from now when everyone is belaboring endlessly “who killed the electric car this time.”

    Jack Rickard

  6. “who killed the electric car this time.”……followed by “Revenge of the Electric Car Again!”. Except it will conversions with Chinese batteries. Enough conversions to drive battery innovation. Enough interest to spawn a grass roots industry. Enough industry to make electic cars a viable option for my mother.

    I don’t think there’s a conspiracy; I just think GM don’t want to hurt the sales of the Cruse by selling the Volt at a substantial loss (They’re already selling the car at loss by not selling it at too high of a price). Companies like Tesla and other conversion shops don’t have a conflict of interest.

  7. I agree Leigh. There is NO “conspiracy” at all. It’s kind of the natural order of things. The Burlington Northern Railroad rather failed to invent the DC-3 aircraft and there is no mystery as to why. They have a business model and they think that way. I don’t think there is a SINGLE person in General Motors who would have anything but success for the Volt.

    Similarly I thing Ghosn is totally committed to success of the Leaf, and in fact if it does not succeed, essentially this terminates Ghosn’s career.

    But the design choices and product positioning are a result of hubris. They assumed they could “jump start” mass adoption of electric cars. To do so would require a fabulous amount of chicken and egg grease.

    For example, if the Chevy Cruze was $16,000 and the Chevy Volt was $12,000 I think the outcome would be very different. But this would require GM to eat the difference between reality of small volume component prices until they could get it up to volume. It would be a huge number.

    To attempt to jump start the adoption curve while having the consumer pay the premium is a non-starter. So we are back to the standard adoption curve. If it is new and sexy and glitters and does cool stuff, a small segment will pay the premium to have it. But it is a “small” segment and it has to be new and different. SAME model but with electric drive is a poor choice from the get go. In this case, they themselves ESTABLISH the value proposition with the Cruze. That then establishes the premium. And that dog won’t hunt.

    An entirely new car with no comparable fossil drive train and some serious advantages known to be costly (all aluminum construction comes to mind) and some geekness (19 inch touch screen and a big CPU and memory – wireless of course and 4G) help. And as I’ve said many times, it is much easier to bury the premium in an UPSCALE car than it is in an economy car.

    Electric Rolls? Sure. Electric BMW or Porsche, probably. Electric Focus? This makes no sense. Your early adopter profile doesn’t think Focus, they don’t shop Focus and they are not going to drive a Focus. It’s a populist notion, but totally impractical at this stage in the adoption curve.

    Electric Mercedes? That dog will hunt. Electric Fiesta? Houston, we have a problem.

    We have watched carefully the reaction to individuals, real people, to our cars. We talk to them and mostly LISTEN as they explain why they don’t think e-cars are for them. Then we drive them around in one. Then we talk to them again. This is a doable mission. But the belief systems run deep – almost subconsciously. A TV commercial is not going to accomplish this task. Test drives are better. Lifestyle demonstrations over time better yet.

    it will be a slow road. But it is an achievable goal. One of the frustrating AND promising thing is that people really don’t have any idea how much they drive, where too, or why. They really just don’t. Their perception of their relationship with their car and their actual relationship with their car are two VERY different things.

    So I wasn’t referring to an conspiracy. I was referring to the price we all shall pay because these two automakers made some poor strategic choices, and what the MEDIA will do with the information – easily by the end of this year.

    Jack Rickard

  8. The real irony goes to “expectations.” Nissan is still looking for 150,000 Leaf’s per year. Chevrolet has “upped” their plans from 110,000 units annually to the much larger 60,000.

    Tesla is targeting 10,000 units per year.

    So test question: Why will Tesla be serving champagne (well sparkling Californian anyway) at their posh “stores” when they reach 10,000, but Nissan is in trouble with their 10,000?

    10,000 is roughly 10,000 isn’t it?

    Jack

  9. I meant to say. “Some People might think there’s a conspiracy” before the second paragraph. I type one sentence ahead of myself. Many people who watched the first film could be forgiven for thinking there was some sort of conspiracy. I know you weren’t referring to a conspiracy.

    Sorry if I raised your BP a bit.

    Padraic

  10. Not at all Padraic. In fact, in reviewing the video and comments it DOES sound a little bit like I’m talking about conspiracies. I am simply not. I never assume conspiracy if there is any possibility of incompetence or human error.

    I think both these vehicles, and the iMiev for that matter, are strategic blunders and to me very obvious ones.

    Two things make it obvious.

    1. The premium on components is simply a lesser percentage of a higher priced car.

    2. The type of person who would adventure in this area and might buy an electric car, probably has several cars, is kind of a gadget freak, is always an early adopter, and probably has more financial resource. Who does that describe in our society?

    Typically 50-60 year old males in the computer/Internet industry. NOw I’m trying to picture them in a Cruze or a Nissan. Aint’ happening.

    Picture them in an Aston Martin Rapide. Happening.

    Tesla wins. But that’s probably because Elon Musk is very familiar with the adoption curve AND the guys who can afford it.

    Jack

  11. Just last Friday I had an emergency situation whereby I had to travel beyond the return range of my car. I figgured i’d worry about getting home after sorting the problem. Turned out there was a Nissan dealership nearby so i went in and asked nicely if i could use their charge point. They very kindly said “yes” and after i nearly lost my voice talking to the mechanics for an hour , i asked the sales guys how the leaf was selling. They had sold 12 this year and were quite proud of the fact. He figgured about 30-40 sales this year so far in Ireland. I know its apples and oranges comparing Ireland with the United States but there ya go. My 2c.

    Damien Maguire

  12. I’m told that in the UK a Leaf as a company car attracts zero benefit-in-kind for tax purposes. If that is so, a £400 a month lease charge as a salary sacrifice works out at £250 a month net which is puddle-jumper money.

    I wonder how many they have sold in Asia (China, Japan, Korea…)?

  13. Oh, and on top of the £250 a month net, no petrol and no road tax. I spend £230 a month on petrol…

    Borderline free motoring. Can’t be true. Where is my mistaken assumption?

    BTW, I was assuming 40% marginal tax rate

  14. John,
    being a perennial non-company car driver unless I needed a pool car..

    £5000 removed from the new price. A present from the taxpayer, or they go to prison.

    10 years = £27,600 of fuel less approx £4,600 electric bill you cannot recover if you charge from home. £23,000
    Less the extra servicing costs for having no engine (>£500). Free tax disc for an effective car road fund class of £200. A saving of £2,000.

    So the payback time to me would be around the moment I turn the key, simply for the fancy bells and whistles and quality of the drive.

    I think it’s just about the cheapest car to own and run on British roads there is!

  15. Jack,

    I’ve heard you describe the early adopter phase a number of times, but your prose in this blog was exceptionally lucid and packed with insight. What’s changed? Did you stop drinking or is it that swell new haircut?

    Doug

  16. And then there are those of us who have to buy our parts one at a time over several years and will end up stuffing them in an old VW Beetle. The people who want electric cars the most are the ones who genuinely cannot afford to shell out $5 a gallon for gas. Our choice is a $15k new car or an old car with $15k worth of electronics shoehorned in with blood sweat and tears (and they don’t give car loans for that kinda thing).

    As for the OEMs, I’m just waiting for those lithium oxide batteries they’ve all decided to use to start burning down people’s homes. This whole adventure into electric cars started for me when I found those videos on YT showing the difference between shooting and driving nails into a lithium oxide cell vs a lithium phosphate cell.

    Perhaps these engineers need to spend a little more time looking stuff up online.

  17. if Tesla sells 10k in a year they do indeed have something to celebrate. the question is will they get there..

    as for battery life of the laptop cells, I would also be concerned at that but indications are that they last. there is a roadster in europe with over 100k km on it and no mention of death or severe degradation. the 300 cycle is perhaps in the typical laptop application of extreme heat and piss poor charging abuse. I have this cheapo 18650 charger for my cheap but great CREE based flashlight. it charges the cells to 4.25 volt. that’s way beyond what it should for long life. if you treat them right they might last a really long time. I fully expect the tesla packs to last a typical 10+ years. maybe even 20.

    but here’s a thought. let’s say some few teslas need a new pack after 5 years. and tesla is no longer around… : )
    where do you buy a 10000 cell pack of state of the art laptop cells with super reliable management.. those cars will take a hit on price.
    but assuming tesla is around I don’t think the pack price will be bizarre. I’m guessing 10-20k$. tesla will want to keep those price barebone or sales will tank buy reputation.

    there is probably around 20.000 factory lithium cars in the world now. the only EV that is not production limited in sales is the imiev. those we have in stock here in denmark and around the world. they still sell but there is enough of them. the reason is a modest car and a very high price. the leaf seems to have plenty of demand still despite a high price too. less for the Volt I think but also still production limited. GM wouldn’t ramp up production and raise the price for 2012 model if demand was really 125 cars per month.
    I have no love for the Volt or the Leaf. big auto is doing it wrong. they are way too heavy, poor aerodynamics and greedily priced on top of that. but desire for EVs is so big that they take the abuse anyway. but that initial enthusiasm will eventually saturate. I think they know that and plan to lower the price at that point. the greedy bastards

    what we need is the spoiler car. the car that is light weight and aerodynamic such that it is fast and good range with only 4k$ worth of lithium. trivially done with today’s technology but the fucking morons aren’t doing it. including tesla and fisker. the first company to do that right will bust open the floodgates because everyone will look like a moron by comparison. and rightly so.
    think modern EV1

  18. Jack,

    In this episode you mentioned the energy usage of refining a gallon of gasoline to be 7,5 kWh, and you also mentioned that it was the best estimate you got from the Department of Energy. How did you get that estimate, and do you have it in writing somewhere so it could be referred to? I’ve heard exactly the same number from Robert Llewellyn in one of his excellent Fully Charged -episodes
    http://www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow#p/u/22/OdtBmojIOzg [ab.5:30],
    but I have not managed to contact him and find out where he got that number. You can find out the total electricity usage of the refineries here:
    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_capfuel_dcu_nus_a.htm
    but it would require a statistics genius to find out how much of it goes directly towards gasoline refining and how much for other petroleum products. Getting undisputed, factual, referable figures like that would shut up the coal maggots forever.. well, at least for a while before they spin up new fantasy numbers.

  19. If you want to quote me you may. If you want an appeal to authority, Google is readily available. The U.S. Department of Energy does have a website however. I’m sure that’s where I got it. It’s not like we chat over breakfast.

    Jack

  20. Actuallly, Dan, I am sure I would thoroughly enjoy either a Leaf or a Volt. My point was not that they build crappy cars or are “doing it wrong.”

    I think their strategic approach to developing and marketing an electric cars is what is wrong. The prices are not driven by greed, but by costs and until volumes reach significant levels, as is true in all technological deployments, prices WILL be high. The point is, who can or would PAY them.

    There IS some “low hanging fruit” around and I and many of our viewers might be typical. I don’t know how deep that low hanging fruit runs, but I would guess in the low tens of thousands at this point.

    A HIGH end car where less of the purchase price is devoted to batteries, for example a Tesla Model S, might attract a very DIFFERENT buyer – gadget guys and computer enthusiasts who are not eat up with EV fever already. By aiming at the ECONOMY segment with a high cost vehicle, I think they have STRATEGICALLY blundered – badly.

    ANd the potential for backlash is really quite imminent. IT will dampen enthusiasm for electric vehicles in general, slow battery developments, slow investment in the technologies, etc. It is really quite damaging. It isn’t that the CARS are bad. It’s strategically poor and the results can be damaging in a way that it were better they never introduced at all.

    Jack

  21. Jack you have a point but I’m not entirely with you on this.

    Motor manufacturer’s are not normally the fish that go puddle hopping. Historically, they prefer the puddles to merge before they make the dash to a new technology. Hence the Hybrids.

    Toyota created Lexus for their high end market. It differentiates from their more “ordinary cars”. This gives them an exclusivity price separation. If Toyota tried the Tesla concept I’m sure it would be derided as a fail by the media.

    I do applaud Nissan for opening up the market for this car. However, its market is probably designated for the more fiscally intelligent, family man commuter buyer who most likely has another motor, a garage with electric and of course, lives in Europe — high fuel prices!

    If you live in the UK/EU the total cost/expenditure savings of a Leaf over an equivalent will be >£10K over a decade for 100K miles. $16K!

    So I agree with your view as Nissans low end blunder taking into account US fuel costs and its market. There is also the strategic failure of not letting on to the public it’s where the intelligent money will head for.

    Would I buy a leaf? Tempted because it’s practical enough and dirt cheap to run but I watch EVTV because I aspire to learn and make something special to me.

    Sorry for the long post.
    Andrew

  22. Andrew:

    Part of the disconnect here is that you and I ARE the low hanging fruit. Unfortunately, there are not that many of us. After they have sold a leaf to all those who are ALREADY CONVINCED that electric cars are entirely a public AND personal GOOD THING, they will have to offer it to mere mortals.

    At that point, I fear it will not be viewed as a good value proposition – even in the UK.

    The hybrids are indeed a stepping stone. And in the broader public, it relieves the range anxiety. To me, they make ZERO technological sense, and so I find them an affront. But I think we will see a lot more hybrids than genuine electric cars – for one thing the battery costs are much lower and so the value proposition is more within grasp. I think a good segment of the population would pay a small premium, they just don’t want to DOUBLE the price of the car to gain electric drive.

    FOr the foreseeable future, I think electric cars will develop along two converging lines – us garage monkeys doing the best we can with kit cars and conversions of classic or desirable existing automobiles, and high end BMW’s, Audi’s perhaps, Teslas, etc that are very pricey appealing to the very well heeled early adopter.

    The land in between these two groups will likely come along slowly and they will come along as the PRICE of the technology decreases. That rate of decrease, will be balanced with the increased in interest. More interest at $6 per gallon than there is at $2 per gallon all other things being equal.

    Nissan Leaf and Chevy VOlt have come out squarely aimed at “no man’s land” in between. Premature and off target.

    Imagine a different reaction if GM reprised the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette in electric drive at $90,000. An exact reproduction from the original tooling. Of course they can’t even find the original tooling. But this would be an interesting offering where the value was not entirely based on the cost of the components.

    Jack

  23. So I guess there are 4806 Leaf owners in the US that think otherwise. There are two just in my local neck of the woods that both happen to work at the same place and neither knew the other until a couple weeks ago. I know of one more that wants one real bad. We are not considered truly low hanging fruit as our pay is pretty meager. Those that usually go for the low hanging fruit usually have more to play with. We don’t. To us it does have quite a bit of value and the other issue is that for nearly the same cost of building one none of us could build one nearly as nice. There is more to this than electric. It also has to do with those of us that are eco tree huggers that really want something nice. Many of the conversion as you know are quite cobbled together and not really very reliable. Some are but many of those are in a similar price range and there is no warranty either. I love the DIY way and will be continuing down that road but it will be purpose built. Not a nice daily commuter.

    I remember the Prius. It took off faster than I had ever expected. Now even out here in this area they are like weeds in a field. They are everywhere. I guess the market just might be larger than you might think. You were surprised that there were so many of us that are so passionately enamored at wanting to see the electric car market just go viral and wanting to build them as a business. Well I think there will be a huge liability and very very few of us will actually be able to build a viable business. It is after all going to take more money then most of us have. I have the money to spend over time but not at once. That makes the OEM vehicles much more desired.

    Could you build me one that equals the leaf and sell it to me over time with a warranty and good interest rate?

    I see that the typical early adopter phase will be short compared to years gone by.

    We are out here and I feel there are far more than anyone here is thinking.

    I am not in no mans land. The Tesla S is in No Mans Land for myself as well as many thousands of others you do not know about. A few thousand is minimal but it is a beginning. I have many who are asking about my car and I am also asking as many as I can how many miles they drove the day before. Most are under 30 miles daily.

    To drive my SUV for 150,000 miles would have cost me nearly $25,000 in fuel only. I think my decision was right on the mark. I think my decision to build a purpose built vehicle is right on the mark too. It will not be any where close to the comfort and safety of the Leaf.

    Pete 🙂

    My Rant. I commend everyones work at getting electric into the public hands. The winds of change have arrived.

    See you at the conference.

  24. The other thing I noticed about the Prius is that there was very minimal advertising over the years but it gain popularity anyway. People saw that they were being purchased and it was, from my perspective, more a word of mouth affair. I see it coming around again.

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