Consumers were all over the Teslas, the Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs and other fully electric vehicles at this year’s Toronto Auto Show. Sales are zooming into the stratosphere, helped along by generous incentives from the Ontario Government. Buy now before they start reducing the grants!
You can still sense the reluctance of the industry itself. The spokespersons are saying all the right things in public speeches about their commitment, and to some extent I believe them, because they are too invested by the billions, and surrounded by regulations, governments and citizens who want a greener future. Also they can’t deny the sales success to date, despite that there has been surprisingly little electric car marketing undertaken by the major OEMs.
But you can tell manufacturers are not happy about the development work still to be done to bring them into profitability. You can tell dealers are not happy that they will have to to re-train their salesforce and reinvent their business models as the after-purchase service and maintenance market begins to shrink. One of the tell-tale signs is that it is still hard to get inventory. So if you order an electric, you usually have to wait several months before you receive it. This will change. Every time there is a show like the Toronto event, industry insiders realize that this disruption is primarily about what consumers want.
In one of the auto show workshops an industry expert reminded the audience that “We all know what happened to Kodak,” referring to a classic case of a market leader underestimating the eagerness of consumers to embrace a better product like digital cameras. In the case of electric cars they are far less expensive to operate and maintain, quiet, safe, healthy and green. Bring them on!