With the hype and the hope building for the roll out of electric cars this fall, there is a comment I'm hearing more and more from people as I travel around the country and it goes something like this, "That's nice. Tell me when they are a big deal."
In other words, much of the public is treating the upcoming debuts of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf as interesting for others, but not something they are focused on.
Blame it on the stalled economy or the fact prices at the pump have stayed in check or the fatigue of hearing about electric cars.
Whatever the reason, I'm getting a collective shrug of the shoulders when I talk about electric cars with people outside the auto industry. Yesterday was a good example. Flying back to Chicago, three different people asked me what I think of Hyundai because they are thinking about buying a new one.
On other days the questions involve my opinion of Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Nissan, etc. You pick the auto maker and I would say I get four or five times more questions about the current line-up of internal combustion models on sale now than I do about electric models in the pipeline. Some of this is because most people will always ask about what's on sale now, not what's coming out in a few months.
But perhaps there's a bigger issue at play here.
Until we see a larger number of electric rides in showrooms or there's a major spike in gas prices, the most people won't care much about electric cars. It's not that they aren't interested in driving a greener car. It's more a case of focusing on what they want right now and finding a car that fits their budget.
So as we gear up the media hype for the Volt and the Leaf, don't be surprised if your neighbor yawns and says, "big deal."
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