Chinese EV


The Globe and Mail reports that General Motors and Honda are joining forces to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2020. The purpose of the joint venture is to cut technology costs. The two auto makers will also develop a refuelling infrastructure that will be crucial for consumer acceptance and the long-term viability of fuel-cell vehicles.

The Christian Science Monitor directs us to a website that helps us assess whether electric vehicles are cheaper than gasoline vehicles. The US Department of Energy website compares the energy costs of driving an electric car relative to gasoline prices. The website uses continuously updated data on gasoline and electricity prices around the US, to come up with a national and state-by-state price for an “eGallon”. This is the quantity of electricity that would take a typical EV as far as a gallon of gasoline would take the average new conventional car. The eGallon calculation is based on the average energy usage of five specific EVs, including the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Focus EV, along with the 2012 US fleet average fuel economy for small and mid-size gasoline cars. The post is concerned that the concept of the eGallon as currently defined and measured by the US Dept. of Energy may overestimate the true cost differential between an EV and the gasoline car it is about to replace since it does not take into account the initial upfront investment in the vehicle.

eGallon might prove useful, but only as long as it is grounded in the best information we have about the vehicle choices that potential EV buyers are actually considering. Since current EV incentives apparently provide a poor return to taxpayers, an overly simplistic tool that drives consumers too far in that direction might be worse than not having such a tool at all.

In a related post, Daily Finance asks: Do You Really Save Money Driving an Electric Car? The post looks at the life-cycle costs of an EV and a conventional gasoline car to find out.

There are three main lessons from our lifetime calculations:

  • HIgh sales prices can put electric cars at a spending disadvantage they’ll never recover from. Ford’s Focus Electric simply can’t make up the ground on its cheaper gas-fueled twin.
  • Maintenance costs matter. Whether it’s a battery replacement or major engine repair, knowing what a big repair will run you is essential to understanding overall costs.
  • Fuel costs add up. Penny-pinching at the pumps might sound silly, but our eight-year projections show that eGallons make more sense the longer you drive.

See also Union of Concerned Scientists, Deal or No Deal: Are Electric Vehicles Worth It?

The Globe and Mail examined the reality of electric cars in China.  Despite the rhetoric from government officials, few EVs are being sold and those that are, are being used for public transportation.  The automakers, including those owned by the government, are not willing to devote substantial resources to develop a product that cannot be sold in the marketplace. “Due to their intellectual appeal, hype for electric vehicles has always gotten ahead of the realities of market demand. In China, this is once again proving to be true.”

The Auto Channel reported that China plans to cut back on subsidies to consumers to buy electric cars. The government plans to phase out direct financial incentives for the purchase of EVs in favor of supporting research and development by its major automakers.  Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang said government subsidies are only “short-term solutions,” and direct government incentives for consumers are likely to be eliminated by 2020. “The government is unwaveringly committed  to the industry, but EV makers should never count on subsidies to survive,” Wan told the China Daily.

Speaking of subsidies, we are informed by Pantagraph that Mitsubishi’s i EV is selling well in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the US because of the availability of $19,000 in subsidies from the federal, state and local goverments as well as dealer rebates. As a result, the consumer can have the $33,000 vehicle for only $14,ooo in cash layout.

The Green Optimistic says safety concerns with lithium-ion batteries are keeping EV sales down.




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1 Comment on The Week in EVs and More (Part 4)

  1. […] Recently Earth’s Energy introduced you to the “eGallon”, a new measurement from the US Department of Energy to assist consumers in comparing the cost of operating an electric vehicle with a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle. Now the energy collective has taken a closer look at this measurement and gives us its views on its usefulness. […]