These are strange times in the EV world. With gas prices moderating so to is interest in electric cars. As it is, the Nissan Leaf continues to have sluggish sales and the Chevy Volt (an extended range electric vehicle) is not much better.
And yet, as new models are preparing to be rolled out, the mileage on these vehicles keeps pushing higher and higher. With it, will come the question of whether the greater mileage will stoke greater interest among buyers?
The latest electric car to be rated by the EPA is the Honda FIT EV. It has received the highest fuel economy rating ever, at 118 MPGe. That's greater than the Ford Focus Electric (105 MPGe) and Nissan LEAF (99 MPGe) and well above the Chevy Volt (93 MPG combined.) We're still waiting to see a final EPA rating for the Tesla Model S which will start being delivered to customers in late June.
It's clear the mileage on EV's will continue to grow as the batteries and engines become more powerful efficient. But when will the ratings hit a point where the mileage you get for one charge is so great, there will be a major shift in demand for electric vehicles?
I think we're still a ways from hitting that point.
The first issue remains cost. As long as automakers have to charge a premium for electric cars due to the cost of the battery packs, the buyers will opt for conventional gas powered cars or gas/electric hybrids.
The second issue is the price of gas. It will have to surge above $5 a gallon before scores of car buyers feel compelled to buy a car they plug in. It seems $3.60 or even $4.00 a gallon isn't going to shift demand.
Do it think both of those dynamics could change at some point? Yes, but probably not in the foreseeable future. And when they do change, I suspect 118 MPGe will not be the top rating for an EV.
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