Thursday, May 2, 2013

Electric Cars Are Dropping Like Flies!

Is it just me or does the Coda Sedan look a little too much like an old Civic?

There are many critics of electric cars, especially people who work in the petroleum industry (that's slightly a joke, but only slightly). People cite the limited range of electric cars as a concern as well as battery problems, battery replacement costs, extra strains put on maxed-out electricity delivery systems, etc.

Well, these critics of electric vehicles should be having a party right now because it seems that electric car makers are dropping like flies. In case you missed the huge news from last week, Fisker Automotive is quickly moving toward bankruptcy. It seems that the company continued to tax money from the US government even though it knew that it was losing a massive amount of money with each Karma sold (insert joke about bad Karma here). Now Justin Bieber is going to have to find some new car he can have wrapped in chrome so the paparazzi has an extra easy time of tracking him wherever he goes.

To add to that bad news for EVs, now Coda Automotive has declared bankruptcy. Of course the question that everyone asked was who would be stupid enough to pay $40,000 for a Chinese electric car with no reputation to uphold, but that's beside the point. There are plenty of people who are declaring the death of the electric car at this very moment.

Of course there is still the Nissan Leaf, which was not selling very well until recently. And then there is the Tesla Model S, you know that piece of "vaporware" that the critics said would never come to pass. The Model S has racked up some serious awards and I've personally seen several on the roads here and have to say they look as good in person as in the marketing collateral. But apparently the electric car is dead.

Sure, Toyota backed out of a deal last year with Tesla to start making all-electric powertrains Some other automakers have also backed off of their EV projects. And some really big players like Daimler and Nissan/Renault have declared they are moving forward with hydrogen vehicles.Does this mean the electric car is dead?

If anything the electric car is showing more life than ever. These deaths are a necessary movement in the marketplace, the casualties of faulty planning rather than a faulty plan for powering vehicles. Evidence abounds at this, including the recent surge in Leaf sales as well as big automakers planning on releasing EVs in the near future. The Fiat 500E is coming soon, promising another inexpensive electric car as well as the Smart Fortwo Electric, to name just two. And Detroit Electric is back, although it remains to be seen just how well the automaker survives the next few years. 

As for those who fear that all these electric cars are going to overload the power grid, I have one thing to say: buy a solar array and take yourself off the grid. Problem solved.


  1. The last time I visited the Nethercut museum ( here in So Cal, I was amazed to learn how prevalent electric cars were in the early days of the automotive industry. The museum is filled with very electric cars. As I understand it.. electricity and gasoline were in a head-to-head fight for domination for several years for a while. Eventually, gasoline won out. I can't help but wonder what our cars would be like today had the pendulum swung the other way.

  2. David, that's one of the best automotive museums in the United States! Most people don't realize that the vast majority of early cars were electrics. Both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were big proponents of electricity over petroleum. But the sudden low prices of petroleum pushed the industry in that direction, combined with the fact that they have not developed lithium ion batteries at the time. One of the big electric car builders was none other than Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) and one of his designs included motors integrated into each wheel, which is a design some are adopting today. I guess we will never know what old school electric cars were like, but we can pave the way for a future of electrification.