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A new study published by Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics found that electric vehicles are predominately sold to highly educated, middle-aged male urbanites in the upper income brackets. The study gathered together the results from various earlier studies conducted worldwide. Overall, researchers determined that EV adoption remains a niche phenomenon among only the most engaged and eco-conscious consumers. Even among these consumers, studies suggest that EVs are still used mainly as secondary vehicles alongside gas-fueled cars.

Furthermore, the study also assessed popular preconceptions regarding EVs, finding little of surprise with range anxiety and the charging challenges being the two most common negative perceptions. While cost was less commonly stated as a negative, this suggests that the prevailing issues regarding EVs have kept many consumers from exploring the possibility of ownership to any real extent, thus they have yet to encounter the vast price gaps.

Source: WNYC’s Transportation Nation blog

Read more: The full study is available here

The city of Hong Kong introduced on May 15th, 2013, the city’s first fully electric fleet of taxis. The BYD e6 Taxis, manufactured by Chinese auto manufacturer BYD, will service the Asian mega-city’s commuters during a trial project exploring the potential for expanding electric coverage to the rest of the city’s taxi fleet. This trial launch will also see the installation of 47 chargers in 9 locations at Hong Kong area car parks, with a plan to expand this network as the project progresses.

Source: EV World article

South African officials announced on May 2nd a new incentive scheme to encourage auto industry manufacturers to bring production operations to the country. The incentive, offered to manufacturers producing a minimum of 5,000 qualifying electric vehicles in the country, would be reimbursed for 35% of the production cost over three years of continuous production.

Government officials also hinted at plans for a future consumer incentive program which it hoped to run parallel to the country’s development of the local electric vehicle ecosystem in an €590,000 e-mobility project.

Source: Mail & Guardian article

While initially believed to offer an ideal market for the new technology, Chinese markets have seemingly not fulfilled the grand expectations automotive industry analysts had for them at the outset of China’s drive towards EV adoption as little as 3 years ago. While Chinese authorities continue to push the government’s initial target of getting 500,000 EVs on Chinese roads by 2015, industry analysts have grown far more skeptical regarding the prospect of fulfilling this goal.

Analysts point to the relatively small sales figures for EVs in China last year which amounted to a total of 12,791 electric drive vehicles (0.0826 % of total vehicle sales), amounting to an even smaller figure of 3,000 fully electric road-ready cars sold (excluding golf carts and other such non road-ready consumer vehicles), according to an IHS Automotive analyst in Shanghai.

Nonetheless, despite discouraging market trends automakers continue to develop their EV strategies, facing a less ecologically minded and more brand-conscious market driven by those wealthier consumers who can afford to purchase the somewhat pricier plug-in vehicles instead of traditional gas fueled cars. However, auto manufacturers hope to benefit from the concentration of high-level battery development facilities located in the country to help improve the attractiveness of their vehicles.

Source: Article in the USA Today “China not embracing electric vehicles”

Read more: Chinese automotive sales figures for 2012 at China Auto Web

In a recent op-ed column at Forbes, energy business commentator Ken Silverstein presents a compelling argument for the necessity of partnerships between the public and private sectors in driving the electric vehicle industry forward. Citing the anemic sales trends currently plaguing major automakers EV lines, Silverstein argues that private companies lack the support necessary to continue driving the industry’s development for long enough to drive the costs of new technologies down to competitive levels. Alternatively, Silverstein argues, public sector players could provide the industry with a supporting hand by expanding charging networks to counter the drawbacks of the short-range batteries fuelling many electric vehicle models at present.

Silverstein’s support for public-private cooperation in innovative EV development is the latest word in an active debate over government aid for the EV and renewable energy fields which has been ongoing in the US for at least the last year. This debate reached critical mass following the struggle plagued development of several of the most highly touted of these green companies, including Fisker Automotive and Solyndra. Ultimately, Silverstein argues that developing electric drive cars is in a nation’s best interest in the long run as it is not only an environmental necessity but it will also bring economic advantages in developing alternative energy related manufacturing expertise as well as a new found level of energy independence.

Source: Forbes article

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