Mayor Bloomberg wants to double down on electric vehicles, but its a bad bet for New York.
In his State of the City speech last week, Bloomberg said he wants to add 10,000 new electric-vehicle charging stations over the next seven years. To that end, he wants the City Council to amend building codes so that 20 percent of all new parking spaces must be "wired and ready for electric vehicles."
The city can be as "wired and ready" as Bloomberg likes, but he cant make consumers buy electric cars. More important, he cant overcome the basic physics that have prevented battery-powered cars from being anything more than a tiny niche player in the global auto industry.
The history of the electric car is a century of failure tailgating failure. The problems havent changed in 100 years: All-electric vehicles, or EVs, have little range, take too long to refuel and cost way too much.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, the vice chairman of Toyota Motor Co. — the worlds biggest producer of hybrid cars — underscored these points this month, saying that due to "its shortcomings — driving range, cost and recharging time — the electric vehicle is not a viable replacement for most conventional cars."
Nissan had high hopes for the electric car. Last year, the automaker — which got a $1.4 billion line of credit from the US Energy Department to help it produce EVs — expected to sell 20,000 copies of its all-electric Leaf. Actual sales totaled just 9,800.
Lets put those numbers in perspective. Last year, Ford sold 645,316 pickups in the United States. So Ford is selling more pickups in six days than Nissan is selling Leafs in an entire year.
Last year, electric vehicles accounted for just 0.1 percent of total US car sales of 14.5 million. And hybrid sales were roughly 3.3 percent of the market.
Consumers are buying about 31 hybrids for every 1 electric vehicles for a simple reason: value.
Check out Cars.com. You can buy a brand new 2013 Prius for about $22,000; the cheapest Leaf available is $35,000.
The cheapest Chevy Volt — the much ballyhooed plug-in hybrid electric — was also about $35,000, twice the price of the Chevy Cruze, which uses a conventional gasoline engine but is built on the same chassis. And while the Volt has a bit of "gee-whiz" cool, the Cruze still gets about 42 miles per gallon.
In short, EVs arent a regular consumer good; theyre a toy for the wealthy. Indeed, a 2010 Deloitte Consulting report found that the most likely buyers of electric cars are people with household incomes "in excess of $200,000."
By pushing for more electric cars, Mayor Bloomberg is following the same failed strategies of the Obama administration, which has handed out $2.4 billion in grants to the EV sector, as well as nearly $2.6 billion in loans. Despite all that money, the sector has seen nothing but carnage.
Last year, Obama-subsidized EV-battery makers Ener1 and A123 Systems both went bankrupt. Fisker Automotive, the troubled maker of upscale hybrid-electric cars (costing $50,000 to $100,000) is hoping to be bought out by another automaker.
And Tesla Motors, a publicly traded company that makes all-electric vehicles, has lost about $450 million over the past five quarters alone. Its pinning its future on the Model S, a vehicle with a starting price of $52,400. Want the "performance" version? Thatll cost you $87,400 — nearly as much as a new Mercedes S550 ($95,000).
Those cost figures help explain what a recent Reuters article called the publics "yawning indifference to green vehicles."
Bottom line: Bloomberg wants to force the private sector to build charging stations for a fleet of cars that dont exist and probably wont exist for years to come, if ever.
New York City has plenty of infrastructure needs. More charging stations for electric cars isnt one of them.
Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/mayor_unplugged_from_reality_RLYdf8wGATd9WLYFtzQnFJ