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Study: Electric Vehicle Sales Will Lag; Colorado Bucks the Trend

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Electric car charging station in Colorado

Electric car charging station in Colorado.

Although Coloradans rank among the top buyers of electric vehicles (EVs), according to (as reports, and as this blog wrote about), a new study shows that EVs remain a tiny percentage of the U.S. market. That will only change when automakers can lower prices and demonstrate to consumers the economic benefits of EV technology, says J.D. Power and Associates, which conducted the study.

Reuters writes that sales of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles are rising. notes that according to, 3.4% of new car purchases through August of this year were hybrid or electric, a full percentage point higher than for all of 2011.

Bucking the slow U.S. trend, Colorado car buyers have been bullish on EVs, as writes:’s analysis of Polk’s new car registration data finds that 2.2 percent of all new electric vehicles sold so far in the U.S. this year were registered in Colorado, ranking the state 14th in the country. This rate is more than one and a half times the state’s share of all new car registrations in the U.S., where Colorado ranks 23rd overall at 1.4 percent. The Centennial State also buys a slightly higher proportion of the country’s hybrid vehicles (1.5%), ranking 20th in the nation.

Bruce Finley notes in The Denver Post that about 1,200 electric vehicles are registered in Colorado, as compared with 35,000 gas-electric hybrids. About 60 charging stations have been set up across the state, and Denver and other cities have been encouraging installation of more such stations, Finley writes. You can see a map of electric vehicle charging stations in Colorado here.

But in the country as a whole, sales are lagging, as Jerry Hirsch reports in a Los Angeles Times article appearing in the Detroit Free Press: Nissan’s Leaf sales are down 16% from the same period last year; Honda has leased only 48 of the electric version of the Fit this year; and Mitsubishi has sold fewer than 500 of its MiEV mini-car. In addition, Hirsch writes, Tesla Motors has delivered fewer than about 300 of its electric hatchback and expects to sell about 3,000 this year, depending on how soon it can ramp up production. The industry will sell about 500 gas-electric vehicles this year, which represents about 3.5% of U.S. auto sales.

Although people who have bought an electric car usually say the main reason was its environmental friendliness, 45% of those who are considering buying an EV say their motivation is to save money on fuel, as compared with only 11% who mention environmental concerns, Hirsch writes.

He goes on to say:

‘EV owners report an average monthly increase in their utility bill of just $18 to recharge their vehicle’s battery — which is significantly less than the $147 that they would typically pay for gasoline during the same period of time,’ the study said.

The problem, said Neal Oddes, senior director of the green practice at J.D. Power, is that there ‘still is a disconnect between the reality of the cost of an EV and the cost savings that consumers want to achieve.’

A battery-powered all-electric vehicle will cost about $10,000 more than a similar gasoline-powered vehicle, he said. Based on annual fuel savings, it would take an average of 6.5 years to recoup that money.

J.D. Power conducted the study in October 2012, based on online responses from more than 7,600 vehicle owners and panelists who either currently own an EV, are considering an EV for their next vehicle purchase, or shopped for an EV but ultimately decided not to purchase one.

In a comment below the Detroit Free Press article (which is titled “Electric vehicle economics don’t pencil out, study shows”), Kyle Sager writes that electric cars should not be discussed in terms of “pure economics” without mentioning climate change:

How can you try to distill an article like this to pure economics without mentioning climate change? In this month of all months, how can you try to pull that nonsense. Trying to turn the clock back? Sorry. Can’t put Sandy, the wildfires, or the drought back into a bottle…. Any article that tries to sanitize the EV future from climate change? Is in denial. Sooner or later we have to muzzle fossil fuel. The economics of ripping 12 states to shreds with over $50 billion in damage… don’t ‘PENCIL OUT’ either.

Image by bradleygee (Bradley Gordon).


One Response to “Study: Electric Vehicle Sales Will Lag; Colorado Bucks the Trend”


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