EVs earn ‘failing report card’ due to short range — study

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2016

With few long-range electric vehicles on the road, the auto industry received mostly failing grades in a new report card tracking the industry’s electrification progress.

The report, from Lux Research Inc., analyzes how compelling electric vehicles are to consumers and predicts when plug-ins might be poised to take over the auto market.

This year, the auto industry received failing grades for small car plug-ins, SUV plug-ins and large car plug-ins, mainly because of the lack of affordable vehicles that can drive up to 200 miles between charges. Only the Chevrolet Bolt, which comes on the market this year, achieves that range in those categories.

So-called luxury plug-ins got the best grade of the categories with a C-minus. Though both the Tesla Model S and Model X have a 200-mile range, that grade was given because there are only two long-range options. Lux Research could not grade pickup plug-ins because there are zero models on the market.

Overall, the industry earned just 27 out of a possible 100 rating.

“Although EV progress is being made, we still found few compelling choices for mainstream consumers, with most plug-ins both too expensive for the mass market and too limited in electric driving range,” Lux Research Senior Analyst Cosmin Laslau said in a statement. “This performance earns the automotive industry a failing report card aside from the luxury niche.”

Environmentalists and economists have long said the key to achieving mass appeal for electric vehicles would be a car that can drive more than 200 miles between charges and that costs less than $33,000.

While “no carmaker has yet attained the ‘holy grail,'” the report points to the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 as promising indicators for the industry.

And while electric vehicles largely remain a luxury buy, Lux Research says it’s just a matter of time before the technology “trickles down” to the mass market.

Based on estimated reductions in battery costs and regulatory changes, the analysis firm predicts electric vehicles will become 50 percent of the overall auto market between 2035 and 2040.

“It will take three full model cycles’ worth of development and iteration before the EVs take over the market, but automakers are showing progress on improving their offerings, with Tesla and GM leading the way,” Laslau said.

Currently, the most popular electric vehicles are smaller cars like the Nissan Leaf. While the smaller plug-ins on the market have relatively small ranges less than 100 miles, Lux Research predicts that could change in the coming years.

Already, the group notes, Volkswagen is working to increase the range of its plug-in Golf, while Nissan is trying to do the same with the Leaf.