Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Understanding the Adoption of Electric Cars

If you read the news (I don't recommend it) you often hear conflicting stories. For instance, today Transportation Nation reports that Europeans are slow to warm to electric cars. From the story:
Transportation ministers and industry leaders, speaking last week at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany, said government subsidies and ever-increasing numbers of charging stations aren’t yet enticement enough to convince European consumers.
Yet the Energy Collective just published a story about how Norwegians love the Nissan Leaf electric car. Why is this so? From the story:
How did they do it? Infrastructure and incentives.
So there you go. Subsidies and infrastructure are not enough, except when they are. Back to the Transportation Nation story:
Another issue hampering EV adoption is standardization. Europe is home to multiple electrical grids, and different EVs have different plugs. Pat O’Doherty, the CEO of Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board, said “I should be able to drive my electric vehicle from Dublin in the future, down through Britain and charge it, down through France and into the South of Spain.” He added that even the technology governing payment systems at public charging stations differs from place to place.
Yamashita later said ruefully “that’s my headache at this moment.”
 The story does note the Norwegian sales, plus a clear explanation of how to goose success:
One bright spot for the Leaf, though, can be found in Norway, where 1,000 of them were sold in six months.
But on a large scale, “it will only work if the customer benefits financially,” said O’Doherty. He said the Nissan Leaf had been selling better in Ireland since Nissan had knocked 5,000 euros off the price.
So now we know.
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