'Not right away': Electric cars still have long road ahead

October 5, 2018 by Daniel Aronssohn And Joseph Schmid
The electric car revolution still faces a few hurdles

Under dazzling autumn sunshine in the heart of Paris, Marc Fiot steps out of a new Zoe, Renault's flagship all-electric hatchback, and readily declares it "the future".

Does that mean the 70-year-old retiree, who says he hasn't missed an edition of the Paris Motor Show since 1966, is ready to join what carmakers insist will be the electric revolution?

"Not right away," Fiot says. "What's stopping us is the price—it's a bit expensive for a small car."

The base price for a Zoe starts at 23,000 euros ($26,500) in France, and doesn't include battery rental costs—though the government is offering a 6,000 euro clean car rebate.

But higher costs relative to traditional vehicles are just one of the hurdles facing the industry as it races to bring into the mainstream.

"The problem is the range isn't enough," said Guillaume Magne, an 18-year-old who just recently got his license, after trying out Citroen's C-Zero.

Eleven automakers have made 33 cars available for free 30-minute test drives at the Place de la Concorde as part of the motor show, which runs until October 14.

But the crowd was thin as the show opened to the public on Thursday, though the exhaust and constant honking from traffic charging chaotically through to the huge square wasn't exactly an enticement to get behind the wheel.

Although global sales of all-electric cars jumped 50 percent last year, according to Jato Dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz, they represented barely 1 percent of new registrations.

A key argument in favour of electric cars
Optimism and doubts

Electric optimism was nonetheless on full display, with executives predicting that crackdowns on pollution and the push for self-driving vehicles made the shift from combustion engines inevitable.

"There isn't a single carmaker which isn't planning to develop its own range of models in the next three or four years," said Guillaume Crunelle, an auto expert at Deloitte.

He expects that by 2022-23, "they will absolutely be competitive in terms of price."

And Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, said that once buyers are assured that a car can go at least 300 kilometres (185 miles) on a single charge, "range is no longer a concern".

That is indeed the case with the new models on display, including SUVs from Mercedes and Audi, which long resisted offering all-electric models.

But executives admitted that a limited and disparate network of charging stations—often using incompatible plugs or payment systems—remained a deterrent to potential buyers.

Long charging times remain an issue as well, with minimum waits of about 15 minutes currently.

The goal with new batteries expected to hit the market in coming years is for ultrafast charging in seven to eight minutes, similar to the time it takes to fill up at a petrol station.

Simple to build, easy to serve

But engineers still have to figure out how to contain the extreme heat generated by such power transfers.

'Good option'

For Yves Bonnefont, head of the high-end French carmaker DS, depending on the level of government support, "the market can either accelerate sharply, or develop slowly".

Such support has given China a huge head start in the market, with Chinese brands largely unknown outside the country making up eight of the top 10 electric carmakers by volume—the others being Renault and Nissan.

US and European carmakers worry this could make them dependent on Chinese battery technology, not least because China holds huge reserves of the rare-earth minerals needed for lithium-ion and other battery technologies.

Another challenge for carmakers is that electric vehicles are far less complicated to build and service, requiring just a small fraction of the thousands of workers currently employed across the industry.

The outgoing Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche admitted as much this week when he warned that his company could not remain a "behemoth" as the industry undergoes a seismic shift.

So executives are hoping the growing number of offerings will prove a catalyst for widespread demand, particularly among younger clients more concerned about smog and ease of use than horsepower.

"It's a good option for commuting from home to work, around 35 kilometres twice a day," said David Kihouba, a pharmacist who lives outside Paris, as he checked out a Smart Fortwo at the Concorde.

"Gas prices are only going to go up," he added.

Explore further: Carmakers brace for shocks as electrified future looms

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Parsec
3 / 5 (2) Oct 06, 2018
The mistaken idea that electric cars would simply take over the market in a few years was demented from the start. New technology just doesn't work that way. Equally ludicrous is to suggest that eventually the penetration of electric vehicles will not be overwhelming.

It will probably not be until new battery technology which improves over current lithium-ion cells and a real reduction in battery cost along with improvements in range that this market will take off. But research in this area is exploding, and technology always has its way, particularly when vast sums of money are at stake.
WillieWard
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 06, 2018
It's in the Transportation Sector that can be seen clearly that solar/wind aren't alternative to fossil fuels, otherwise they would already be used largely to recharge the electric cars.
"electric cars don't burn fossil fuels"
"Lets go for a walk..."
https://pbs.twimg...POdA.jpg
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https://pbs.twimg...lgYJ.jpg
https://pbs.twimg...33DR.jpg

https://uploads.d...7879.jpg
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tekram
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2018
Electric cars keep getting cleaner, despite efforts by the EPA and NHTSA to roll back pollution standards on cars and power plants. Counting the power used to generate electricity the average electric car produces the equivalent greenhouse-gas emissions of a gas car that gets 80 mpg... no gasoline car currently achieves an 80 mpg fuel economy rating.

In northwestern states and Nevada, that number is up to 96 mpg due to the abundance of renewable energy source for electricity. In upstate New York, that number is 191 mpg.

https://blog.ucsu...-cleaner
Zzzzzzzz
3 / 5 (2) Oct 06, 2018
Tesla is taking Mercedes, BMW, and even Toyota Corolla market share right now. Looking at Renault to try to see the future of EV's is a little like looking in a cave to see the sky.

Parsec, the market IS taking off, all around you RIGHT NOW. I will pick up my Tesla on Tuesday. Tesla sold 80k carts in the USA in just the last 3 months. And they are ACCELERATING.
Parsec
5 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2018
I can see I was misunderstood. Of course the electric car demand is taking off right now. Anyone with eyes to see can see that. What I meant to say was that real market penetration, on the order of 50% or more, cannot be expected to occur until most or all of the old gasoline powered cars on the road reach the end of their life. That will easily take at least another 10-20 years, since even with the current market penetration of electric cars into the new car market most of the current new cars being sold are gasoline or diesel powered. That is, say in 15 years 30% of the cars being sold were electric. That means that the 70% of new gasoline cars being sold have to reach the end of their productive life before being replaced with electrics. Do the math. Even if 100% of the new cars being sold were electric, we still have another 10-20 years before the existing stock of gasoline cars wear out.
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2018
It's like a vegetarian that secretly eats meat
You've nailed it, WillieWard
It's in the Transportation Sector that can be seen clearly that solar/wind aren't alternative to fossil fuels, otherwise they would already be used largely to recharge the electric cars.
"electric cars don't burn fossil fuels"
"Lets go for a walk..."

The object of this exercise is to not charge your batteries from fossil fuelled generators, as it is less efficient than fossil fuelled IC Engines driving the vehicle directly!
Edenlegaia
5 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2018
Tesla is taking Mercedes, BMW, and even Toyota Corolla market share right now. Looking at Renault to try to see the future of EV's is a little like looking in a cave to see the sky.

Parsec, the market IS taking off, all around you RIGHT NOW. I will pick up my Tesla on Tuesday. Tesla sold 80k carts in the USA in just the last 3 months. And they are ACCELERATING.


Looking at FRANCE's stance on EV itself is ridiculous. The way they sell EV cars.....it's plain stupid. Not only those cars are awfully more expensive than their ICE equivalent, you also have to pay each month for the damn battery since they don't even sell it with the car!

I saw many claims about the world driving full EV inn let's say, 15/20 years. PURE BULLSHIT! Forget about third world countries not caring about pollution and good points of EV, if France's exemples can be found anywhere else, things will change in no less than 50 years.

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