Survey: Electric Vehicles Fail to Spark Consumer Sales

Published September 28, 2017

The Chevy Bolt, touted by electric car advocates as the plug-in electric vehicle (EV) for the masses, has yet to make significant inroads into overall car and truck sales, an analysis by Climatewire has found.

Out of more than 10 million cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, and crossover vehicles sold since December 2016 when the Bolt was introduced, only 8,200 Bolts have been sold or leased. Even though the Bolt was originally introduced only in California, with a phased release going nationwide in July 2017, the sales numbers have proven disappointing to electric car advocates.

Although the sales data indicate Chevrolet has been able to attract customers to the Bolt who have never owned a Chevy before, the data also show most of the purchases are from individuals upgrading from or trading in electric or hybrid cars, and the Bolt is not making inroads into the wider automobile market still dominated by gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Overall, EV sales account for less than 1 percent of national vehicle sales. Hybrid cars make up only 3 percent. Not a single electric or hybrid vehicle is listed among the top 20 vehicles in sales for 2017 so far.

Climatewire reports the absence of widespread, reliable charging infrastructure remains a significant hurdle for plug-in electric vehicles to reach wider market acceptance.

Government in Driver’s Seat

Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation, says the only reason electric cars are being sold at all is because of government fuel efficiency mandates.

“Electric cars are a niche market and will likely remain so for decades, despite all the efforts of environmentalists, the media, and politicians who pour billions of dollars in government subsidies into their manufacture and sales,” Matthews said. “Demand only picks up when gasoline prices are high, and that situation may occur much less frequently now that fracking has allowed the United States to dramatically increase crude oil production.

“If car manufacturers didn’t need EVs to help meet their government-imposed corporate average fuel economy standards, it’s doubtful whether any company besides Tesla would even be producing them,” said Matthews.

Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.