Electric cars are taking off quite simply because they represent better, safer automotive technology and a solution to greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, according to François Lefèvre of Nissan. “As a company we are targetting zero emissions and zero fatalities.”
Lefèvre was one of eight speakers at an electric vehicle workshop at this year’s Toronto Auto Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Also represented were spokespersons from General Motors, Ontario Hydro, Toyota, Flo the charging company, University of Michigan Auto Research, Volkswagen, and the Electric Vehicle Association in Norway (see separate story item about Norway).
Lefèvre also noted the importance of government incentives for at least a few more years, and pointed out that the US Congress recently kept in place a $7500 tax credit on electric vehicle purchases.
”GM IS ONE DEVELOPMENT CYCLE FROM PROFITABILITY”
Dave Paterson, from GM Canada said that sales of electric vehicles are up 83% in Canada and that GM is currently selling one third of all electric vehicles in Canada. “I think we’re one development cycle from profitability. We will soon bring battery costs down by about another 50%, and within a few years we will be offering about 20 electric vehicle models.”
He suggested that the tipping point for electric vehicles to go mainstream is within sight. Although economies of scale are important, further product development is equally critical for the success of the industry, during what is expected to be a significant disruption.
SAVING $20,000 ON FUEL IS NO SMALL THING
Brookes Shean from Flo, thinks the tipping point could come as soon as 2020 as consumers begin to fully realize how much money they can save. Saving $20,000 on fuel is no small thing. Stephen Beatty from Toyota pointed out that a cultural change will also accelerate the tipping point, when doing anything to add to greenhouse gas will be like smoking tobacco. It will just be the wrong thing to do.
Scott Hollinshead from Volkswagen agreed with the 2020 tipping point, noting that governments are flooding our society with emissions regulations. He talked about manufacturing regulations and also about cities regulating what kinds of vehicles can be driven downtown. He also noted that one of the industry’s key challenges will be to introduce bigger fully electric cars. He said 65% of Volkswagen’s sales in Canada were SUVs, so we still love our big vehicles.