Powering vehicles with electricity instead of gasoline? We always knew that we couldn’t judge our success by monthly sales figures.
“This is more of a marathon than a sprint,” is the way Mike Tinskey, associate director for global electric vehicle infrastructure at Ford, put it. Tinskey’s comments were echoed by dozens of other auto manufacturers and suppliers at a recent conference on the future of the auto industry where electric vehicles were all the buzz.
So while we’ve seen some negative comments about the market share that electric vehicles have garnered so far, we need to remember that most of these comments come from people who have never supported innovation or investment in our manufacturing base. One thing we know for sure is that all new technologies take time to catch on.
As another speaker at the same conference, Earl Bloom, global sales manager at Dow Kokam, pointed out, “Electric service (household electricity) took 50 years to get into all the homes out there in the U.S.” He also noted that personal computers, now ubiquitous, were a niche market less than 20 years ago.
Others point out that this past year’s sales of electric vehicles has outpaced the first year in sales of hybrid cars a decade ago. Seems to me that success may well be in the eye of the beholder.
The key is that we need to continue our support of new technologies, especially in the beginning. California's new clean car standards, along with EV incentives in the proposed federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards should help. But we know we can do more. And unfortunately, we also need to defend some of the hard-fought incentives we have already put in place.
One thing to remember is that as production of electric vehicles continues to grow, the cost should decline, allowing vehicles to be more affordable to all. And that is good news for Michigan: good news for our manufacturers, good news for our workers, and good news for the environment.
Until next time,
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center