Electric Car is Doomed to Failure as Mainstream Car

Evidently, the market has yet to accept the electric car to be the mainstream car. This is happening in US, as summed up in, Gas prices, subsidies fail to jump start electric vehicle sales by Bruce Tyson, and in Hong Kong, “Why electric cars aren’t selling” by Christopher Shay. As reported by CNNMoney during the last Detroit Auto Show, the auto industry is also uncertain about the future of electric car. The fact is that the auto industry is concern with the technical issues, like range and recharging capabilities, of electric car as the cause of its failure to be the mainstream car. Here is one story, “Electric car backers focus on conquering ‘range anxiety'” by Jan Ellen Spiegel. But these technical issues are merely the symptoms of its failure and not the root cause. By addressing the symptoms, the electric car manufacturers get only temporary relief. The root cause is the current focus of the auto industry. Empirical evidence suggests that driven by the high price of gasoline and the global warming from burning fossil fuel, the current focus is on the replacement of fossil fuel car, in particular, gasoline powered car.

With such a focus, the conventional wisdom is to use the gasoline powered car, which has been successful for so many years, as the benchmark for its replacements. Consequently, it follows that efforts and resources are diverted and diluted among various alternate fuel cars, which range from hydrogen, air, solar, natural gas to electric cars. As all alternate fuel cars have variations in pros and cons, it is indeed difficult to compare, like between apple and orange. As a result, the movers and shakers of auto industry do not share the same view and, very often, political climate rather than economic often dictates. Some companies are already going ahead with other options, including hybrid, in a big way. For instance, on Jan 31, Autopia posted a report that Germany is betting on hydrogen powered car.

In such a situation, no other alternate car will be a winner, including the current electric cars, because the focus is on a tree (apple or orange) and not the forest. A tree will eventually wither and die, but the forest can live on. Specifically, the current electric car will not have the resilience to take any hit from its competing alternate fuel cars. The gasoline powered car remains the most likely candidate to beat the electric car, because all it takes is for the price of gasoline to drop. This scenario seems inevitable, when the gasoline price will eventually drop as a result of gasoline powered car losing market share to electric car and results in lower demand for gasoline. Coupled with improved fuel consumption, lower gasoline price will surely make the gasoline powered car more attractive again, which causes the electric car to fail to gain major market share.

To make matter worse, another inevitable scenario may also be unfolding in the global market, even when the electric cars are slowly making inroad in US. The consumers in emerging markets are not yet in a position to afford the costs of owning such cars. Worse, emerging markets, especially China, constitute a larger population (market) of the world, and these markets continue to grow faster than US now. Correspondingly, the fossil fuel cars, which are cheaper, will increase their global market share faster than the electric cars can make inroad into the market. Consequently, in the context of a global economy, the goal of reducing fossil fuel powered vehicles or global warming is no where nearer than before. Thus, by addressing the symptoms, the electric car gets temporary relief until it gets another hit from its competing alternate fuel car.

“According to a new report from Trend Tracker, an automotive research company based in Wiltshire, England, electric cars are unlikely to be able to raise their game to bail out the world’s need for mobility as the oil runs out by, say, 2050. Trend Tracker says car manufacturers’ expensive scramble to produce electric cars with limited ability would be better spent on long-term research to produce electric cars good enough to compete with regular ones.” This is extracted from, Battery-electric cars will struggle after normal buyers replace early adopters, published in FedUpNetwork.com.

As an analogy, the current focus is looking to replace an apple with an orange. As a result, instead of focusing on the orange for its own merits, it confines the benefits of an orange to the same impact of an apple. For the current electric car, their benefits are confined to its immediate impact as a means of transportation much like that of the gasoline powered car. This is evident at both Tesla and Nissan websites. As a matter of fact, this blog shows more benefits of the electric car: Electric vs. Gasoline Vehicles: Which is Better? In the context of an economy, the electric car has many more benefits, as mentioned in the article, “Comparing Electric and Conventional Cars in the Context of an Economy” that is published in Associated Content from Yahoo!

Despite these great benefits, the electric car is still doomed to failure as long as the electric car manufacturers are addressing the symptoms but not the root cause. The first step to resolve its root cause is to identify the root cause as described above. The next step will be tackled in later articles to identify three game-changing advantages of electric car to resolve the current technical issues.