When Nissan slashed the price of its 2013 Nissan Leaf electric car by thousands of dollars, Ford, its closest competitor in the EV marketplace, said it wouldn’t be following suit.
Oh, what a difference just a few months can make. For 2014, Ford is cutting $4,000 off the price of its Focus Electric after experiencing what can most kindly be called sluggish sales. That now puts its starting point at $35,200, including destination and handling, which is still some $6,000 over the price of entry for a 2013 Nissan Leaf. Even at that, you can score a lease for a Nissan Leaf at just $199 per month, and competition like the Honda Fit EV ($259 per month) and Chevrolet Volt ($269 per month) aren’t much higher. By comparison, Ford offered a $249 per month lease deal in the California market.
Through June of this year, automakers have sold about 41,000 electric cars in the U.S., comprising a tiny fraction of the total number of vehicles making their way into customer hands. This is despite there being a $7,500 federal tax incentive and state incentives ranging up to $7,500 in states like West Virginia, which has a great electricity infrastructure thanks to its coal-mining industry.
Despite huge upfront costs, automakers are willing to take the financial hits with lowering prices for two reasons: The more EVs they sell, the lower their development and production costs may be. And in California, the Air Resources Board has made a mandate that the seven largest automakers must have a 15-percent fleet composition of zero-emissions vehicles in the state, lest they be fined or banned from selling cars in the state. Currently, many automakers are purchasing clean air credits from Tesla, which has sold more than 6,000 of its Model S sedans that range in price from about $60,000 to $100,000.
When we drove the 2013 Ford Focus Electric, we said it was one of the best electric cars on the market. Mind you, that was before the Tesla Model S, Honda Fit EV, and Fiat 500e made it to production. But with a solid 76 miles of electric range per charge, we found it practical without being too compromised. Now, makers of electric cars are seeing their products become antiques almost as soon as they’re rolled out, as the technology is evolving so quickly. Perhaps the only way to make an electric car is to keep bleeding money until the technology matures.
But is the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars annually car really worth it?
Source: Detroit News