Makers of electric vehicles geared towards U.S. consumers would be wise to adopt a sales model similar to that of mobile phones, in which drivers would pay a set fee for unlimited electric charging, ex-Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope wrote in an editorial for EV World.

Pope suggested that automakers should provide a six-year recharging contract to EV buyers who'd then pay $150 a month for recharging privileges. That would pencil out to about equal to refueling costs of a 25-mile-per-gallon car that's driven 15,000 miles a year, but at a relative bargain of $3 a gallon, Pope wrote.

Such a program would help minimize up-front vehicle purchase costs – a major issue since electric vehicles often cost much more than similarly profiled gas-powered cars – as opposed to using an estimate of total lifecycle costs to sway purchasers. Currently, the Mitsubishi i is the lowest-priced full EV on the market, and it starts at $29,125.

Pope says the U.S. automotive industry risks losing its technological leadership in electric-vehicle development by not adopting such a plan because the U.S. has lower gas prices and requires longer driving distances than a country like France, putting EVs at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries. The thing is, Better Place is already trying to make a cell-phone-like plan work for EVs, but it is not having tremendous success in the U.S.


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  • 132 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      - Most people are conservative with their own money. They are afraid to risk their own money on new, unknown technology. - Petrol cars are much, much cheaper to buy than EVs. (Except in Norway) - People aren't used to thinking about range. Most people don't really know the distances they drive. So people go for the safe alternative. - When thinking about range, people often think about holiday driving range not everyday commutes. - Cost of petrol per year still very low compared to cost of car. - Current EVs have too low range for some uses. If large numbers of EVs travelling distances longer than range (i.e summer houses, etc) were to be common, you'd have to have an impossible number of fast chargers midway. - Very few models of EVs to chose from. (This is changing fast now.) - I wouldn't reccomend an EV to a person without dedicated parking place/garage with charging infrastructure next to his home. EV ownership is impractical if EV can't be charged every night. (Might be mitigated somewhat if people are able to charge while at work instead.)
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think that some type of scheme that reduces the up-front cost by replacing it with a recurring monthly cost is a good idea. However, most of the schemes that people have come up with don't seem all that great to me. Better Place = Pay $32K for a car and then get locked into paying a single source hundreds of dollars a month? No thanks Battery Lease ideas => Uh . . . what happens at the end of the lease term? Do you take the battery back? Am I forced to keep leasing? Fortunately, we have a clever system for defraying the large up-front cost and replacing it with a monthly cost . . . it is call "A loan". Now granted, they are not perfect. A lot of people have had their credit histories in recent years destroyed so that hurts. But interest rates should be low these days. And if loan officers take into account the savings considering that EV buyers won't need to buy gasoline, that should help qualify them for the larger loans. So pay for however much you can up-front and take a loan for the rest. But that said, it is still a tough sell until EV prices drop a little more or gas prices go up more.
      Scambuster
      • 2 Years Ago
      Carl Pope knows not what he is saying. American cellphone users pay the among the highest rate in the world due to such price model blessed, approved and sanctioned by the FCC. The 'revolving door' practices among the regulators and industry as well as corruption and graft have ensured price model that gouges consumers under the guise of free market.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      The bottom line is that electric cars start making purely financial sense somewhere north of $4/gallon, depending on what you normally drive instead. The economics work fine in Europe, but not yet in the US. That doesn't mean that people should not change anyway, as after all aluminium fancy wheels or a sunroof don't make financial sense, but plenty pay for them, as they do for more space and power than they could get by with or leather seats. On top of that, if you want to get fancy you can start calculating all sorts of other things, like the fact that you can guarantee you will get to work whatever the sheiks do, or the low repair costs. The fact is though that lease or buy, at the moment in the US you can do things cheaper,. We are not far off break even point though, and oil is not, whatever the abiotic oil folks think, being made any more.
        DarylMc
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Hi DaveMart I don't think EV's have to make financial sense. Just like buying a BMW over a Kia for example. But if they happen to, have low running costs be quiet and smooth reduce local pollution perhaps lower co2 emissions Then I think it's enough to make EV's a valid choice and I'm pretty sure a side benefit for the world would be less vehicle km driven.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        "The economics work fine in Europe, but not yet in the US" Perhaps you can explain to me then why EVs have not caught on in Europe? I've always wondered. I have a number of theories: -Europeans tend not to car commute as much, they use public transport, walk/bike, etc. -They live in "flats" where they have no private garage so they can't charge. -They use public transport for commuting so they want a gas car more for long trips to the beach/mountains/etc. -Oil prices are high in Europe but so are electricity prices. (I don't think that one makes sense.)
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        SoCal gas is well over $4/gal, but I'm not seeing tons of EVs here. Europe, the gas is more like $8/gal, so it's a no-brainer. I think the tipping point is around $6/gal.
      EV News
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's not a very well thought out idea! In places like Georgia and Washington the local utilities sell off-peak electricity for fractions of a cent per kwh... and those with PV panels on their roof can also charge their EVs for next to nothing! That's the best selling point of EVs.... they cost $0.01 per mile to run.... 1/10th as much as an ICE car!
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EV News
        These fake solar economics are nonsense. The sun may be free, when it wants to shine, which it does not do most places with the power and regularity of Arizona, but harnessing it most certainly is not, and a solar array greatly adds to the capital costs already added to a car by the battery. The fact that many comparatively well off people have managed to land a great deal of the costs for their private power in a solar array on the taxpayer, other utility customers, who are mostly a great deal better off than the beneficiaries does not alter the fundamental economics. A $20,000 array still should be regarded as carrying a amortisation cost. At 5% interest that is $1,000 per year before you start paying the capital costs back. The bums and scroungers who install arrays at other's expense should have exactly the same respect as any other bum, and in fact usually charge their cars overnight anyway, so the solar output has got nothing to do with powering their cars, that is simply another fantasy on their part.
          Ryan
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          But it is my tax money I am giving to the solar companies instead of the government in taxes. I'm not taking your tax money or anyone else's. Solar power reduces the need for coal mining, and other power company services, so that might lower the amount of money that they pay in taxes however. It will cost me ~$6000 for a 1.8 kWh system to recharge my EV if I DIY a lot of it. $10,000 if I get a pro to install it.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi DaveMart There are some people who contibute to this blog in a very positive way who have quite a bit of money and have invested it into solar panels and in fact do a lot of driving powering an EV from them. When I think of my own dad who recently passed away, well he spent quite a lot of money on a massive new home with little thought to it's sustainability. Well not to be be critical of my dad but anyone who chooses to invest their money into sustainable living I give a lot of credit. It's a mindset change of what's important as far as I can see. For as long as I can remember it's always been seen by rich and poor that the larger home, the bigger faster car was a symbol of success. If that changes well I think it's a good thing. The challenge I see is to consider the poor who have little room to move on these things. Completely off topic and not ingnoring the plight of many, I really wonder why humans found it suitable to live in harsh cold climates. I have a theory that they sat around indoors thinking of great things because it was too cold to go outside. Engineering and science and stuff while us Aussies were thinking of cold beers bikini's and the beach:)
          DarylMc
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi Ford Future No I didn't vote republican but I suppose you can hold it against me because I do usually vote conservative. What you are saying is completely irrevant in Australia but thats's ok. But in any case we have had nearly as left wing government as you may be able to think of here in Australia for the last 5 years. Make no mistake, it is efforts to reduce carbon which have caused the price rises in electricity and sure compounded by some privatisation and selling off of utilities too. I'm not suggesting that is a bad idea at all. I was suggesting that subsidies for things like solar power should benefit all people rather than those who can afford to outlay the money.
          SVX pearlie
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          If the Solar guy installs a battery, then he can charge it during the day, and discharge it at night.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hmm, too harsh. No edit here, but total bull that solar power can in some magical way be had for free is just that, and an annoying and poorly made attempt to con people. Billions are being chucked away subsidising solar in unsuitable climates, to the great cost of the poor, due to idiotic claims like that.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Daryl, I should have moderated what I said because at least in some areas of the US solar pv has at least the possibility of being a useful energy source, peak power in Arizona etc, although it remains a very expensive way of doing it. I find the smugness of the comparatively well off who have installed solar largely at others expense, and at the cost of hardship for the poor in a very regressive effective tax on those who can't afford solar nauseating though. My attitude is conditioned however by insanity such as the installation of solar in the UK, where there are 50,000 'excess winter deaths' which correlate heavily with energy prices and are coming under pressure from greedy lunatics installing solar. In December at the latitude of London, when the power is needed, solar arrays produce one tenth of the power that they do in June, when during the day since we don't use much air conditioning extra power beyond baseload is not just worthless, but a burden on the grid. They should rate solar arrays in the UK by estimated extra deaths per GW, for the poor who have to suffer in ever rising utility bills because of them. Their stupidity and greed is murderous. As I said, the case at least in some areas of the US is rather different, but it is still pretty annoying to hear their fatuous boasts.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Yeah, it was too harsh. But I share your social concerns. I think it's up to governments to make the correct decisions with regard to any subsidies and not blame the people who benefit from them. Maybe it's not true but I have a feeling that the reason the price of electricity has nearly doubled here in the last few years is due to solar subsidies. Where I live there is plenty of sunshine and I think household solar panels have a great future. Many frugal retirees electricity bill has been decimated by the fitment of solar panels. Unfortunately many poorer families who don't own their own home and without the resources to fit solar have found their power bills have doubled.
          Ford Future
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          You're electric rates have doubled because you voted for a "Republican" to deregulate you electric utilities, free to charge you "market prices" for your power. Solar and Wind, in actual fact have saved your utilities money especially during peak hours, as that puts a cap on ENRON type Price Manipulation. Communities have saved MILLIONS by having solar hand wind power available, as that caps the price the futures markets can push coal and natural gas generation prices during peak hours. Hence, the attack on Solar and Wind by carbon lobbyists. Incidentally, carbon fuel sources are still subsidies at a 10X multiplier MORE then Solar and Wind. You're being screwed blind by carbon. You're being lobbied hard by carbon in congress for subsidies. And you're being propagandized as never before by carbon, on energy policy and climate change. If you're still voting "Republican" you're the sucker at the poker table.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Month Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hello Ryan In Australia the subsidies for solar pv are not a tax refund but a direct payment so it is a different scenario. I'm not sure about the UK. When it comes to the US which most ABG bloggers are, it puts a different spin on subsidies from our perspective. But at first glance I would say it disadvantages the poor even more.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      In their garbled way, they are trying to talk about a hire fee which includes the battery, and so reduces the purchase price of the car. Renault, who do this in Europe, do not however include electricity. The only ones who do are Better Place, at far higher cost. A lease on the Kangoo for 15,000 miles a year costs £87pm. That is for a 22 kwh battery, so the lease on a 24kwh battery might be around £97 pm, $150 pm, and for the 16kwh Mitsubishi £63pm, $100 pm. None of these guesses includes electricity. Going by the insured value of the battery at £7,500 for 22 kwh, it is $532 kwh, so you might get around $12,500 off the price of the Leaf and $8,500 off the Mitsubishi. If they made the $7,500 subsidy a straight discount at POP instead of a tax credit, then you might be able to get a little Mitsubishi for $10-11k and then be paying around $100 pm for battery hire and perhaps $30-40 pm for electricity. 12,000 miles/yr would seem more realistic to me in a range limited car though.
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Do I get the car for free like a cell phone as well? That is the only way I see me paying $150/month. But that is the problem. I will pay $12k to convert a truck at home, but I won't pay $150/month for 8 years to drive a new car...
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        My smartphone was $200 down and costs $60 a month for unlimited talk, text & data. I'd pay that much to drive an EV with unlimited miles.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oddly, I tracked back to the original article to see if there was a better explanation(ABG LEAVES SH*t out many times), but even there, it was vague on the advantage of paying the extra money on a monthly basis. I would assume the cars would have to come with some sort of discount, like a cell phone, but they never fleshed it out.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Month Ago
        @EZEE
        Hello EZEE I think it's been a really successful conversation starter even if the bloggers have taken it completely off topic. Regarding phone like plans for cars well it sounds a silly idea.
      Rick
      • 1 Month Ago
      Marco Polo.. British Prime Minister David Cameron & Londons mayor Boris are both frequent cyclists what are you talking about 338 Leaf EV's sold in the last 6 months don't make up much of 36 million cars, Cycle sales jumped 28% 1.300,000 million gave up the car in the UK last year because it has become to expensive in the UK, 1,300,000 NEW cyclists (Of which 300,000 are hardened use it every day cyclists) brought new bikes last year bring the total up to 13,000,000 cyclist that is a massive shift from out of car on to cycles in just on year. There must be a lot of second hand unwanted vehicles flooding the market. 3.5 million (41%) are Frequent Cyclists 4.3 million (33%) are Regular Cyclists 3.5 million (27%) are Occasional Cyclists
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      @Anne: Yo, bitch! You bitch slapped Marco! Unfortunately I have to admit that at 61 years old, cycling around hilly Bristol ( the third most bike friendly city in the UK ) really doesn't work. Unlike in Amsterdam, we just can't peddle from sex-shop to sex-shop! Viagra really doesn't get us up the hills, not at 61!
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      Nick: What part of 50,000 excess winter deaths which correlate with higher utility bills do you not understand? That is at present, as the cost of lunatic solar in the UK which provides 1/10th as much power in December as June, ie not when it is needed, hits harder, and bills go up, so will the death toll. As a tax break relatively wealthy people are putting in solar, with most of the expense loaded onto other's utility bills, which means that they are colder and can't afford to switch the heat on, Vast numbers of people already live in fuel poverty in the UK. Those who are putting solar on their roofs here are increasing that number, leading to hardship, cold and increased mortality. Do try putting a coherent argument together, or better yet, find out something about the subject;
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Month Ago
      @ Rick, You don't give up do you ? David Cameron rides a bike, occasionally. Boris Johnson is a keen cyclist, but as he will be the first to tell you, in inclement weather he drives his Porsche or is driven. The are not 13,000,000 citizens of the UK whose only form of transport is cycling. (unless you count school children) . Even 300,000 out of a population of 63 million, is infinitesimal. Actually, I own a bicycle which I ride in the parkland and river frontage near where I live in Melbourne Australia. I also own a couple of EV maxi-scooters. I am not anti-cycling, but fanatics like you, are just annoying with silly untrue, and unrealistic claims.
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