“Economic conditions certainly don't help, but overall the Volt suffers from being a sub-par entry into a very competitive market,” he says, citing the Volt’s relatively poor gas mileage when it burns gasoline compared to other gas-powered cars in its category.
“A good indicator of this is the secondary market,” he says. “Used sales of the Volt are already at only approximately 40 percent of retail [price] — the [hybrid] Toyota Prius is approximately 50 percent to 53 percent — reflecting poor residual value for still relatively new cars.”
He says he expects the EV market to heat up with more model launches in the next year, like a fully electric version of Toyota’s Prius and Tesla Motors S-series sedans, as well as GM’s planned Leaf sub-compact competitor, the Spark.
Pike Research estimates that 40 plug-in EV models, from most major automakers, will be on the road by 2014.
Along with greater choice, Pike’s Gartner adds that improving battery technology will continue to increase the range and lower the price of EVs in the future.
He says his firm expects battery technology, the EV’s most expensive component, to fall 40 percent in the next six years.
But he points out the price of gasoline will likely be the biggest driver of sales for electric vehicles.
With recent volatility in gas prices, and with oil prices back on an upswing, he says fuel input cost concerns points to fleet managers becoming critical purchasers of EVs.
“Fleets will be a big part of market growth,” he says. “Fleet managers are looking at cost stability. When it’s electricity, there is very little volatility.”
According to price tracking site GasBuddy.com, the average price of gas in the U.S. has risen nearly 50 percent in the last six years to around $3.60 a gallon.