Talk to anyone in the electric vehicle business and they’ll tell you something that you may find to be somewhat surprising: Despite the wild success of Tesla, the U.S. market is not going to be the one where EVs are going to make substantial gains vis-à-vis more conventional propulsion systems.
The word is that it will be western Europe first, then China. The U.S. market comes in third. Which is sort of sad, considering that the company that has made the biggest inroads in the EV market is based in NoCal.
VW Wants You to Drive an EV
Volkswagen, as is becoming increasingly well known, is making a big push into EVs.
One of the VW Group companies is Martorell, Spain-based SEAT, which has on offer, for now, the Mii, a compact electric vehicle.
SEAT Mii, a diminutive electric vehicle, shown here in downtown Madrid. (Image: SEAT)
The company has rolled out with six reasons why drivers—especially in places like Madrid—would want to have an EV.
- Madrid offers a special lane for vehicles that are either (1) full of passengers or (2) “ecological.” In the latter case, only one person needs to be in the vehicle.
- Cities in Europe, including Madrid, are offering free or discounted parking for EVs.
- City centers in Europe—nearly 300 of them—have low-emissions zones that are punitive for vehicles with internal combustion engines. EVs don’t have that challenge.
- Many places like hotels and shopping centers are offering free charging. If you’ve ever seen the price of gas in Europe, that is a huge benefit.
- On the subject of cost, according to Carlos de Luis, head of electric mobility at the Volkswagen Group’s Institutional Relations, based on the price of electricity in Spain, it costs about 1 euro to drive 100 km, which leads him to say of the Mii: “At the outset it’s more expensive to buy, but pays off when you calculate costs for the vehicle’s total useful life.”
- EVs get tax breaks and direct subsidies that ICEs don’t.
By the way, the biggest driver for European OEMs to promote EVs? The impending increase in emissions regulations, not market demand.
Hyundai enters the American market with a new parallel hybrid system that uses lithium-polymer batteries and the same six-speed automatic found in non-hybrid versions of the 2011 Sonata.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
The Tesla Model 3 is certainly one of the most controversial cars to be launched in some time, with production models (a comparative handful, admittedly) presented on a stage with a throng of people treating it like it was an event with Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, all at the same time.