Electric Vehicle Report Card 1Q 2018

Electric Vehicle Report Card 1Q 2018

The status of electric vehicles remains substantially unchanged from last year.

For the first quarter, the sale of plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) increased by 29% YOY, while battery-powered vehicles (BEV) increased by 35% YOY.

PHEV and BEV sales remain at only 1.3% of total vehicle sales in the United States.

Hybrid YOY sales went down slightly.

First quarter sales are shown here:

Data is from the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

Probably the biggest ongoing drama has been whether Tesla will be able to produce 5,000 Model 3 vehicles each month. Tesla missed its promise to do so during the first quarter.

At the end of the first quarter, the increase in BEV sales from the preceding year’s period remained unchanged at 35%.

The other major issues also remain unresolved:

  • Will the average person, other than the rich and famous, buy BEVs if the purchase isn’t subsidized?
  • Can the cost of batteries come down to where BEV prices are comparable to the cost of gasoline & diesel powered vehicles?
  • Will CO2 emissions be reduced sufficiently to achieve the primary motivation for developing BEVs? (Power plants generating the electricity needed for recharging batteries will continue to be fueled by fossil fuels.)
  • Will ancillary costs, such as replacing distribution transformers with larger units, unduly increase the cost of replacing traditional vehicles with BEVs? (The public will pay for these additional costs either directly through taxation or indirectly through the price of the product.)

To these should be added:

  1. Will sufficient high-speed charging stations be built to accommodate BEVs?

While the above represents the status in the United States, the Chinese government is subsidizing and otherwise supporting the sale of BEVs. China’s motivation is to cut smog in major cities and to achieve a leadership position in battery technology.

How China will affect the overall status of BEVs remains to be seen.

When evaluating electric vehicles, these differences should be noted. There is a tendency for some media reports to include HEVs when discussing BEVs and PHEVs.

    • Fuel cell vehicles use a fuel cell pack to generate electricity rather than using batteries. (These vehicles are experimental and are not included in the above data.)
    • BEVs are vehicles powered entirely by battery power.
    • PHEVs use the battery to travel the first 35 miles, then switch to an internal combustion engine to extend its range.
    • HEVs are essentially battery-assisted vehicles that use the internal combustion engine to power the car. Batteries don’t provide the motive power for the vehicle.

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