AutoJournal December 2017
The December 2017 issue of AutoJournal is now available online. You can flip through it here, but first, a few words from the Editor in chief of AutoJournal, Jack Kazmierski.
In this issue of AutoJournal you’ll find Todd Bourgon, Executive Director of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA), talking about his recent visit to China. One of the insights he shares with us has to do with the market penetration of electric vehicles globally.
Here in Canada, he explains, electric vehicles have about a one percent market share. And if you think that’s because we’re new to the EV game, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t seem to be the differentiating factor.
According to Todd, more mature markets, including the European Union as a whole, or China, for example, aren’t doing any better. They’re at the one percent market penetration level also.
So when we hear about certain governments setting benchmarks or quotas, you have to wonder how dealers are going to sell twice as many, or three times as many electric vehicles as they do now, simply because the government says so.
Infrastructure and technology
The challenge, as most experts agree, is infrastructure and technology. You can’t get consumers excited about electric vehicles until you solve the infrastructure problem. Having said that, even with the infrastructure in place, you can’t ask consumers to sit at a charging station for an hour to “refuel” when they’re used to gassing and dashing. Who has the time?
We can point to companies like Tesla with their seductive vehicles and proprietary Superchargers, but even Tesla drivers have to plan a scheduled charging/lunch break before they can continue on their merry way. And let’s not forget the hefty price tag of traditional Tesla models. Yes, there’s the Model 3, but last time I checked, Elon Musk was having production issues that are making it difficult for him to mass market the more affordable Tesla, as planned.
The “how” question
That brings us all back to the “how” question mentioned above. How can dealers here in Canada move beyond the one percent glass EV ceiling, surpassing their counterparts in other parts of the world? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer, but I encourage you to read Todd’s column to get his perspective on the matter. This does not mean that electric vehicles have no future. On the contrary, we see manufacturers around the world investing in electrification. It’s the direction most major brands are moving towards. But it’s the in between stuff that still needs to be worked out, as does the technology. We need batteries that charge faster and can travel further, without adding mass and size and cost to the vehicle.
Is that possible? I like to think so, especially when you consider all the other advances in technology that at one time seemed impossible, and today are a part of everyday life. We’ll get there, sooner or later. It’s just that darn “how” that’s going to keep some of us up at night.