Who Wants An Electric Car Anyway?

    February 6, 2012
    Shawn Hess
    Comments are off for this post.

Let’s look at the names of the current hybrid gas-electric cars which are available for the American public to buy. The Prius, The Volt, The Leaf. No offense to owners of these vehicles, but they all sound pretty lame. If you don’t think a name matters, check again. Yukon, Wrangler, Escalade, Mustang, Raptor, Firebird; these names sound much more inspiring and have been much better sellers in the past. Whether it makes any logical sense at all, vehicles are a status symbol in America.

I know the comparison between a Ford Mustang and Toyota Prius is not fair but I’m trying to make a point about visual appeal and product marketing. Why aren’t manufacturers attempting to get sales of hybrids based on lust and status. Why does a hybrid vehicle look more like a broken Rubik’s cube than a tank from the Thundercats? Why do they call it a Leaf instead of a Titan or Jackhammer? It sounds stupid, but we know it translates into sales. Aesthetic appeal combined with product positioning and bold connotations equals sales. Doesn’t it? Can’t we be cool and get good gas mileage too?

Come on folks, look at this thing. It looks like a new-age mini van:

I don’t have an awe inspiring vehicle in my driveway, but I’m certainly not lusting after the Prius. Take a look at the Leaf, from Nissan.

Yes, equally hideous and unappealing! Who designed this thing, Bill Gates? It looks more like a PC than a car. Next we have the Volt. “The Volt” sounds like a toy I might of had when I was a kid:

Actually, I like the looks of the Volt a lot more than the others. Still, the name has to go. This is nobody’s dream car. Maybe the Chevrolet “High Voltage” would have sounded more…..conducive to sales.

So the exciting, and not so surprising news is that hybrid and electric car sales aren’t doing so well. Prius, the ugly new generation hippie bus, is actually selling the best; over 11,000 in january alone. The Volt had less than 600 units sold this past month and the Leaf, nipping at the heels of the Prius, sold 10,000 units in January.

Other reasons why these cars aren’t selling include less than impressive gas mileage when compared to other economy gas powered vehicles, high sticker prices, and limited qualified repair people at the service shop. If you examine the whole package, it leaves very few sensible reasons to buy one.

Manufacturers will have to do better than,”it’s good for the environment” to get consumers to demand their products. I think hybrid is a great idea but why isn’t it more cost effective and physically attractive? Apple can make iPods look cool, why can’t Toyota do the same thing with a car?

  • Kano’s Bionic Eye

    Well when you’ve got Big Oil buying out anything that poses a threat to their industry, is it really any surprise?

    • Ted

      >>”Well when you’ve got Big Oil buying out anything that poses a threat to their industry, is it really any surprise?”

      Care to cite some specific real-world examples of this? That would be illegal, and I’m sure our business-hating U.S. Attorney General would pounce on it on an instant if it really happened. Unless, of course, you don’t have any real facts…

      • fran

        Years ago when the EV1 was making its debut the oil companies sued the federal government to get the standards repealed that caused them to create the EV1 in the first place. When the very expensive suit was effective they promptly took back all the leases on the EV1 (so the technology could not be re-engineered?)and spirited them away to crush them. See “Who Killed the Electric Car?” You can watch it free online. This might be the event that Ted was referring to. There have been others.

  • J.E. Turcotte

    I not only want an electric car, I’m going carless until I can afford one. To answer your question, though, the reason they’re not more affordable is because they’re so new… all new technologies (and yes, I know the first cars were electric, but that’s not related enough) start out expensive–the toys of the rich–and working only somewhat well… then graduate to being merely being expensive, while working better… and then move on to being very affordable and working very well… before becoming practically free/disposable and working phenomenally well. This is a stage in development of what can only be inevitable considering fossil fuels are finite and all fuel-burning alternatives I’m aware of dig into our ‘that whole eating thing’ budget in a world that’s already starving a billion people even as arable land is being eradicated faster than it can be created. Choosing between being able to drive and being able to eat… will be motivatin enough for the bunny-breeding program of electric storage innovations (something, at least, that’s already under way, thankfully.)

  • Ted

    To the contrary, I own an SVT Raptor and I welcome the Prius on American roads.

    Not only do they preserve more gasoline for my 6.2 liter to burn, but two of them make an excellent jump ramp for the Raptor.

    • Burt

      Does anyone find it odd that this guy has little car fantasies that he writes about on obscure blog comment forms?

    • Paul Scott

      Ted sounds like one of those guys who love buying cheap gas that is cheap because of the soldiers who died fighting in Iraq. I doubt he fought over there or he sure wouldn’t be denigrating a technology that will lessen our need to fight more wars for oil. The entire military leadership, and most of the soldiers, are strongly in favor of plug-in vehicles because they know first hand the dangers to our country of maintaining our 99% reliance on oil when we have no more than 3% of the world’s supply.

      If Ted was a real man, he’d apologize to the soldiers he sent to their deaths for his oil. But then if he was a real man, he wouldn’t need to drive a vehicle named “Raptor” to prove his manhood.

    • Jim

      Whatever makes your penis look bigger. Right, Ted?

  • joe

    Yeah, this is pretty much the dumbest article I’ve read about electric cars. Nice image at the top of the page, too. I like how you chose some random electric car that’s not even in mass production. And for the record, I would argue that the early adopters seem to have no problem with the names and designs. But keep pushing your agenda. It’s painfully obvious that you’re nothing more than a slave to complacency. Yawn.

    • Burt

      Yes, I track a lot of these stupid articles bitching about electric cars and this one really has to be one of the dumbest. Apparently Shawn isn’t impressed by the Leaf’s gas mileage. Isn’t that interesting?

  • fran

    All those old macho names for gasoline cars appeal to males who have yet to evolve into the 21st century. I drive a Leaf and I view it as a beautiful performance vehicle. When I am first in line at a stop light my favorite view in the rear view mirror is that of all the other cars looking like they are going in reverse. Probably they are weighed down by their names, like Mustang, Yukon, Wrangler. Those names sound loud, smelly, oily, noisy and old fashioned to me.

  • Robert J Naumann

    I enjoyed 120 trouble free miles on my ’06 Prius, got an exceptionally good trade-in for an 11 Prius and am looking forward to another 120+ trouble free miles. When gasoline goes to $5.00+, and it’s only a matter of time before it will, I’ll still be able to afford to drive my Prius.

    Just remember, if everyone drove a Prius, we wouldn’t need Arab oil.

  • http://www.webpronews.com/who-wants-an-electric-car-anyway-2012-02 Gifford Walker

    It would appear you should check the definition of the type car of which you are writing. Your grade for “Let’s look at the names of the current hybrid gas-electric cars which are available for the American public to buy – The Prius, The Volt, The Leaf” wouldn’t even get a 33% since the Prius is the only correct answer and you’ve neglected several others. Check the site, http://www.hybridcars.com/electric-car, before you try to speak intelligently about hybrids. It might be good to consider a review of marketing strategies as well since the line about “If you don’t think a name matters, check again. Yukon, Wrangler, Escalade, etc.” shows that you have no concept of to whom these models are marketed. Hybrids appeal to those who look for a benefit to their sense-of-contribution to a cause (or their bottom-line) rather than to their sense of I-have-to-prove-my-machismo.

    Good luck on future articles, owner of a 2003 Civic Hybrid and 2000 Insight both of which read “Gas-Electric Hybrid” on their deck lids.

  • Brian Keez

    Nissan LEAF: 100% electric, no gasoline tank.
    Chevy Volt: Can plug-in AND creates electricity with gasoline for electric motor.
    Toyota Prius: Small engine car with electric motor assistance.

    LEAF milage – $3 per 100 miles at most. Which gas powered economy car compares to that?

    I drive a LEAF and I’m not in love with the looks, but if I were to put a dollar-value on looks, it’s less than $50 twice a week for stink’n gasoline. I can’t see the car while I’m driving it anyway.