• Jan 29th 2009 at 7:57PM
  • 14
Sporting six-figure price tags, many of the electric cars that are available today are only affordable for the wealthy. If these eco-chariots are to find homes, the question becomes, "Do rich people even want electric cars?" The answer, according to recent polling conducted by Bain & Co is a resounding "Yes!" In fact, the survey found that demand is actually highest among those who already have a luxury car in their garage. Understandably though, they would prefer to buy a vehicle produced by a brand they are familiar with, like Mercedes or BMW. They are ready to buy now and don't mind that it might have a limited range since they already have a vehicle for longer distance trips. The biggest problem is that there aren't any for sale yet. Yeah, there are lots of plans for electric cars but not much (and nothing from the big OEMs) sitting on showroom floors. Bummer, dude.

On the "plus" side for those of us worth less than a fortune, the study had some good news. It speculated that the price of batteries should fall greatly over the next few years, making it soon possible to offer $26,000 electric cars. At those prices, Bain & Co estimate a market between 150,000 to 175,000 units a year.

[Source: Business Week]


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  • 14 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      The first road going cars 100 years ago were also only for the rich. Time will bring the prices of EVs down. Have patience grasshoppers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hey, maybe if a bunch of evil rich people buy a bunch of electric cars, that will encourage and enable the makers to produce more affordable ones.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The reason electric cars are so expensive is because the Detroit 3 have been suppressing them for years. If the Detroit 3 thought electric cars were profitable we would have dozens of electric car models on the road. None of the research into making electric cars cheaper has been done. There is no infrastructure base to make the specialized parts. For example semiconductor manufacturers are not making the special transistors for the motor drive, as a consequence general purpose parts are adapted requiring more components and engineering expense.

      A benefit of having dozens of electric car models on the road we would have cleaner air, reduced potential of a global warming catastrophe, and would not have to engage in warfare to keep the oil flowing.

      And now we reaping the rewards of auto makers that chose to back the wrong technology. We are subject to the whims of foreign dictators that at any time could decide not to sell us oil. If the price of oil should skyrocket our economy goes out of balance and collapses. (Remember those record high gas prices last summer and 6 months later the economy takes a rapid nose dive, coincidence?) Whatever the price of fuel is we have to pay it.

      To quote the film "Who Killed the Electric Car", "the air doesn't know the difference between Brentwood and East LA".
        • 6 Years Ago
        "The reason electric cars are so expensive is because the Detroit 3 have been suppressing them for years."

        Do you really believe that? Ford (and even Toyota) actually sold electric vehicles. They both quit because it wasn't economical. The problem with electric vehicles has always been battery technology. The automakers (domestic or otherwise) haven't been suppressing that. The oil companies have.
      • 6 Years Ago
      At the first comment: Funny I didn't know Mercedes and BMW were pawns of the big 3!

      All new technolog is costly and only goes in luxury cars at first, until production costs go down and it can be made affordable for the average consumer.

      Remember when airbags first came out? Only a few luxury cars had them, and they were thousands of dollars, now it's cheap and you can get them in any car. Not because the government is forcing anyone, and it didn't take the time it did because companies were trying to hold back progress.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm sure those rich folks' EV's will be parked in the 14 car garages of their 10000 sq ft mansions which have their huge energy costs taken care of by "offsets."

      I've got offsets for sale. Anyone want one? Anyone care to define one?
      harlanx6
      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess we'll just have to drive diesels until the price of EVs comes down. Come to think of it, we don't have much choice there either. I have talked to VW TDI owners and they are extremely happy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "The reason electric cars are so expensive is because the Detroit 3 have been suppressing them for years. If the Detroit 3 thought electric cars were profitable we would have dozens of electric car models on the road."

      That's simply absurd. All the other car companies on the planet are looking to make money too. Are you claiming that they are also under the control of the big 3?

      Sadly, there are people who will jump at the opportunity to agree with you. The too will not be able to explain how it would be possible.
        • 6 Years Ago
        GoodCheer -

        Yes, I'm familiar with their technology. That said, I haven't seen them sell drivetrain components to private individuals. Do they?

        An eBay search for "SBC chevrolet" yields several thousand hits. "Azure EV" and similar searches are a zero. I haven't seen their components show up on http://www.austinev.org/evtradinpost, one of the few places that does reliably have a variety of EV drivetrain parts.

        So... If I wanted an Azure Force Drive EV drivetrain today, where would I get it? If something breaks in it tomorrow, how long will it take to replace the part?

        I'm hoping for a thriving, readily-available EV drivetrain marketplace soon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed.

        Having done a fair amount of research into EV conversions, there's an abundance hardware and information for ICE drivetrains that are still being developed for EV's.

        Quick example: If the engine in my old Mustang were to blow up tomorrow, it'd be trivial to find a replacement. New, used or freshly rebuilt; there are many affordable options that will be better than the OEM engine. And tons of information if things don't work right the first time.

        Meanwhile, EV-appropriate motors are a different story. Very few decent ones show up in the used market; new EV motors can be surprisingly pricey. There are few similar electric motors that work well in EVs (yeah, I read about repurposed forklift motor EVs - but no one seems to be terribly happy withthem). Don't forget: You still need a controller and charger.

        I'm waiting for the EV equivalent of the short block Chevy engine/Turbo Hydramatic tranny combo that's been a hot-rod standard for years: Well-known, affordable components that work well together and give dependable results.

        Don't get me wrong: I'm a big believer in a bright future for EVs. But I don't buy the conspiracy theorists.
        • 6 Years Ago
        GoodCheer -

        Thanks for the extra, inside info! I often check on Solectria models that show up for sale. I'd love to find one - but they always seem to sell for a bit more than I can spend, and are rarely found in my area (suburban MD).

        I've read about Electro Automotive's AC kits before, but didn't realize they were based on the Solectria drivetrain design.

        Yes, I'd love to do my own conversion. I've got the background and most of the skills to do the work. I'm short on time, money and spousal buy-in for a project of this magnitude.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Phil L.

        While I certainly won't argue that EV drive-trains are as easy to find as ICE, there are some. This link is to the AC motor/motor controller combo that has been used and refined for 15 years. Incremental improvements since the time of the Solectria Force suggest a certain degree of refinement and reliability. I believe Aptera is using Azure technology in their vehicles.

        http://www.azuredynamics.com/products/force-drive/TractionMotorswithDigitalMotorControllers.htm
        • 6 Years Ago
        Phil L.

        If you google "DMOC ev conversion" you can find stories of people who seem to have gotten these controllers. As far as history, remember that until about 3 years ago the company was called Solectria. They did the drive-trains for roughly 400 Solectria Forces (hence the name), roughly 100 E-10 pickups (not to be confused with Chevy's in-house electric S-10s), the several dozen Solectria CitiVans, not to mention a continuous stream of specialty and experimental vehicles. They also had the contract with Ford to do the Th!nks before the plug was pulled (as it were) on that.

        When I worked at Solectria before the split-up, the customer support folks were, by-and-large, car geeks and EV nerds who loved to hear about other people's projects, and they do stand behind their work. Service would however be slower and more involved than running down to your local service station, but if you're doing your own conversion, you'll probably be quite familiar with the bits in question anyway.

        If it turns out that they will not sell to you directly, I think you can get their stuff from http://www.electroauto.com/

        Unless something has changed, I suspect you could at least call them up and talk with someone (you could ask to speak with service, rather than sales) and get a feel for the next step.
        • 6 Years Ago
        luke I agree completely. There will always be people who blame the detroit companies for everything. The fact that Toyota decided to abandon EVs for hybrids is GM's fault also. at least that is what the movie said since GM killed the electric car.
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