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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What About The Infrastructure?

A couple of weeks ago on the news it was reported that sales of the much-touted Chevy Volt were lagging far behind expectations. Many reasons were cited for the failure of the public to accept this "all electric" car even though supposedly it is supposed to 'save the planet' and 'get us off foreign oil' and all that.

But here's my take on it. First of all - the car only goes 40 miles before it needs to be recharged. GM says well - that's because the average person only drives 40 miles for commuting and so forth on a daily basis for commuting. So what's the problem. After that the car has a gasoline engine that can take over and drive the rest of the way.

Well, here's the problem. That 40 miles is an average. That means that lots of people have a more that 40-mile commute. And so they actually drive the car using the gasoline engine as much or maybe more than they do using the electric one. To commute back and forth to work. Kind of defeats the purpose.

And then there are the weekends. And the extended business trips. Or whatever. When you get where you are going - there is no place to plug the thing in. No plug-in places at any hotels or motels. No plug in places at restaurants. Or amusement parks. Or any other tourist attractions. Or at gas stations. Or at a parking meter. Or anywhere else for that matter. In other words - no infrastructure.

Plus the car costs $40,000!

It is kind of hard to justify paying a premium price for a vehicle that is tethered to your garage. If we are going to expect people to get on the "all electric vehicle" bandwagon - we have to commit to the infrastructure to support them. And that means plug-in refueling stations at all the places I just mentioned - restaurant parking lots, hotels and motels, parking meters, tourist destinations, convention centers, anyplace where people go. This stuff must precede the car sales - otherwise there will be no car sales. GM (and Nissan) cannot be expected to continue to produce all-electric vehicles if they are not selling. And customers cannot be expected to buy these cars if there is no infrastructure to support them. Simple as that. Nothing else matters.

It's the infrastructure - stupid!

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