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Even with government incentives, EVs like the Chevy Vol... Even with government incentives, EVs like the Chevy Volt have been slow sellers (Credit: GM).
It's been a bad two days for electric cars.

First, the Congressional Budget Office skewered the government's rebate program for electric car buyers, saying the program doesn't actually do anything to boost electric-car sales. Then Toyota announced it is scrapping plans for a small all-electric car, according to Reuters, because nobody wants them.

And on Tuesday, electric car maker Tesla said it is cutting its 2012 revenue projections because production of its heralded Model S car have been too slow. The same day, Consumer Reports announced they find the $100,000 extended-range electric Fisker Karma to be "plagued with flaws."

Taken all together, the news is making conservatives ecstatic. They've mocked, ridiculed and been downright angry about the money the Obama administration is pouring into hybrid and electric cars. They argue the government is meddling in a market of stuff nobody wants to buy.

"What Obama did was use the power of government money to insert himself into market decisions that he was ultimately dead wrong on," said Ben Howe, a blogger and video producer from South Carolina who made a parody commercial of the Chevy Volt. Although light on facts, the parody demonstrates how some people see the Volt and other battery-powered cars: As a joke.



"The market has spoken loudly and clearly: We're not interested in this," Howe said.

But that might not be entirely correct. The Chevy Volt, which is bolstered by a $7,500 government rebate, had its best sales month in August. (That's also when GM was piling on incentives, which probably helped a lot.) Demand is especially strong in California, which is the Volt's biggest market.

And Tesla said the reason Model S sales are slow is not because of lack of demand. The company has had issues with its suppliers, and has been unable to get all of its parts either done correctly or done on time. The issues have put them four or five weeks behind schedule.

On the flip side, sales of the all-electric Nissan Leaf are sluggish this year, down 31.5% since 2011.

The CBO said its analysis shows that all federal programs aimed at electric cars – including consumer rebates, research and development loans, and other government incentives – will have cost the government $7.5 billion by the end of 2019. Tax credits for consumers, which have the biggest impact on whether or not these cars can be affordable for most people, make up one quarter of that cost.

But many people buying electric cars or advanced hybrids now aren't buying because of the rebates, the CBO said. Many of them could afford the cars even without the tax incentive.

Even supporters of battery-powered cars admit that the cost equation doesn't make a ton of sense right now. But they believe that as more drivers adopt electric cars or advanced hybrids, the price will start coming down. Max Baumhefner, a sustainable energy fellow at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, told the BBC that electric cars are just like other technologies, like pocket calculators and cellphones, which started out expensive and then came down in price.

But he also pointed out there are plusses to owning a car that doesn't run on gas:

"Unlike petrol, the price of electricity doesn't go through the roof every time there's a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico or violence in the Middle East," he told the BBC. "It's a cleaner, largely domestic fuel; the price of which is heavily regulated." Driving on electricity costs about one quarter the price of gas, he said.

A better way to get people to adopt electric cars would be to increase the federal gas tax, the CBO said, which would drive up gas prices and force consumers to seek out more fuel efficient cars. But good luck finding an elected official who would support that -- American voters have made it clear they won't support anyone who merely suggests we should pay more for gas.


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  • 446 Comments
      David Gibson
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Chevy VOLT is the only one out of the pack that makes sense! Lowering the price, and making the battery pack affordable for when it needs replacement. Also, electric cars ain't gonna work if you have only Nissan dealers providing charging stations, in Areas like Texas, while frowning other car owners away, if you don't have a Nissan!
      • 2 Years Ago
      More Republican anti-environmental lies. AOL auto always has a petrol-head bias. The demand for electric cars is increasing not decreasing. Tesla is sold out for the rest of this year. So many people want them. It's exactly like the iphone situation - the manufacturing of a brilliantly made state of the art product always has trouble keeping up with demand. Aol auto, stop the propaganda that keeps us dependent on foreign oil (not really very patriotic is it?) and get your facts straight.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey carpet clown I hope you remember your words and more so your mind set when it comes back and bites you real hard in your a--. Greed is truely the refuge of whimps and fanatics giving them a feeling of power.Play the tape its really not that hard.
      Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      It still takes fossil fuels to make electricity for one thing, for a second thing we're decades from having the needed infra structure, and third they're useless away from city areas, 3/4ths of America is in the so called fly over country and it's somewhat rural to say the least. By the way electric cars were tried in the begining of the 20th century they're not new. Electric cars still require oil products for lubrication and plastic used in their manufacture. Get it through your heads people we will always need oil. We just need to get it here at home.
      Carl Johnson
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only thing I find confusing is the EXACT same people that badmouth hybrids and electrics are the EXACT same people that are loudly whining and grinding their teeth about $4 gasoline. Makes no sense.
      latesleeper35
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well, I'll bet the $40,000 price tag on the Volt has a lot to do with regular people avoiding buying that electric car. One thing that bothers me is that no one talks about the availability of electric power during 90+ degree weather ("brownouts"), or about the possibility that the price of electric power may surge (pardon the pun) if thousands of cheaper electric cars are purchased and the electric power company decides to cash in on these folks. Suddenly, gas at $4.00 a gallon might seem to be a bargain.
      • 2 Years Ago
      i would vote for a official that wanted to raise taxes on gasoline because the tax on gas is so low that the fund it goes into can't pay all the road building and repaving that the fund is supposted to pay for. the tax while offhand i don't know how much it is, i do know that the federal tax on gas has not changed in 30 odd years, it is not a percentage but a fixed amount that has not changed.
      jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      Electric cars are great, no more oil changes,anti freeze, or warm up in cold weather , and no more gasoline.
      rioenri26
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am wondering if more people would you electric cars, and less gas powered vehicles. Wouldn't the electric companies have a reason to increase the price of electricity, then the gas price will go down. Supply and Demand? In the case of SoCal, the price of energy will be steeper than normal and have a bigger impact in people's pocket since right now, we do not have the San Onofre power plant and we do have rolling blackouts if we cannot remember, due to the lack or resourse. The same tree huggers that drives this vehicle will bring us all down because they are the same people that do not want a Nuclear Power Plant to increase the electric output. Please remind me why should I pay more for my electricy eventhou I do not have one of this crap? And please do not forget about the toxic chemicals that this batteries emit when being disposed. How about we store the used up batteries at this tree huggers and lobbyist houses? How is that?
      • 2 Years Ago
      When I hear a person speaking against electric cars, two thought come to my mind: He is a moron or a person paid to post such asseveration. We do not want to depend in foreign fuels. We all want electric cars, but the big point now is that the big majority of us cannot afford it now, but as soon as I can I will buy one. The Volts is awesome and I will probably buy one of those. Electric cars are more reliable then gas cars and that can be another reason some one will like to publish this bull *())(Y( that the general public do not want clean electric cars. The time for oil is running out and it is the time to start making good electric cars if car companies want to stay in the market. The oil industry must have to look for alternatives too, otherwise when the oil is gone they are going to be gone too. The general public wants to leave a better world to the future generations. We are not fools we know the interest behind keeping oil as the main fuel. The general people do not know, but we are running out of time. We need to stop using fossil fuels. Finally, I think that Obama's plan to support electric cars is excellent.
      • 2 Years Ago
      the one thing i see as an issue here... in my opinion... is that for people who drive trucks everywhere will be royally screwed.. we haul big horse trailers on a weekly basis and haul anywhere from locally to 24hr drives... im sorry but im not gunna stop every few hours to recharge a truck when gas will fill faster than an electric car charges. and their idea of raising the gas price cant change my mind on buying a new truck, some people cant afford new things every year... so what are they gunna say... "oh well you cant drive cuz you cant get an electric car" bullshit my ass. but this is just my opinion... everyone has their own
      Jonny Bravo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Comedians used to make fun of people who drove the Prius. With gas hitting 4+ dollars a gallon the only people laughing now are the Prius owners. If you really do want an eletric car all you have to do is wait until Exxon/BP/OPEC decides their not making enough cash and gas hits 5 or 6 bucks a gallon. At some point we the people will scream enough is enough and demand that we nationalize the oil industry in America. The bulk of oil drilld in America and Alaska is shipped to China for greater profits. We get almost 90% of our fuel from Canada and Mexico. If we kept Americas oil in America we could tell OPEC to take a flying leap. Just remember how much you pay and the profits Exxon posts each year. Gotta love greed!
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