Are automakers using hybrids and EVs to maintain the status quo?
“Many consumers say they are concerned about the environment, but when they find out how much a green vehicle is going to cost, their altruistic inclination declines considerably,” notes John Humphrey, senior vice president of automotive operations for J.D. Power, following a study on the subject.
Consequently, JD Power’s latest hybrid and EV forecast predicts just 7.3 percent hybrid and EV share by 2020. China, massive tax credits and significantly higher fuel economy standards, however, could change that outcome, at least to some extent.
While I’d love to slam JD Power, I’ve made that mistake in the past. Many years ago I mocked JD’s hybrid forecast for 2010. Unfortunately, they were spot on.
Back then, of course, I believed the only thing holding back lithium — and the hybrid revolution — was scale and manufacturing improvements. Today, however, it turns out that basic commodity prices are the biggest obstacle facing lithium technologies. Scale will simply reduce lithium batteries from ridiculously expensive and terribly cost-ineffective to just cost-ineffective.
So, how do we move forward? Even worse, are automakers really just using hybrids and EVs as greenwashing, CAFE-balancing and tax incentive-guzzling tools to, ironically, maintain the status quo as long as possible?
Foreign oil dependence until 2050!?