High prices have always been a hurdle for electric vehicles – if they’re too expensive for average drivers to buy, wide-scale integration will never be possible. Fortunately, it looks like that axiom is about to change dramatically.
Purchase prices for both top-selling electric vehicles, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, are set to plunge, potentially opening up emissions-free driving for a much wider class of drivers and turning a corner toward a sustainable transportation future.
18% Price Cut For Nissan Leaf
This is an 18% reduction from the 2012 Leaf entry model’s $35,200 MSRP, and makes the 2013 Nissan Leaf S the lowest-priced five-passenger EV sold in America. But even better, consumers may now theoretically purchase a Leaf for as low as $18,800, depending on available federal and states tax credits.
The two higher-end Leaf models, the SV and SL, will also see significant price drops in 2013 compared to 2012, with the SV falling 10% to $31,820 and the SL falling 6% to $34,840. Perhaps best of all, Nissan will assemble 2013 Leafs, battery packs, and electric motors at three facilities in Tennessee, supporting thousands of green jobs.
“Thousands Cheaper” For Chevy Volt
Not to be outdone, General Motors announced it would introduce a similar price reduction for the Chevy Volt. GM’s North America president stated the company would take out “thousands of dollars” from the next-generation Volt.
Improved battery pack and electric motor designs will allow the Volt’s cost-cutting move, but the exact pricing details are still to be finalized. Regardless, GM is setting its sights even higher, saying, “we will see the day when we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle.”
High Price Concerns Eat EV Dust
US electric and hybrid vehicle sales rose 73% in 2012, making them the fastest-growing sector of the American auto industry, and sales are predicted to grow another 14% in 2013.
While both the Volt and Leaf increased sales in 2012, with 23,461 and 9,819 sold respectively, they’ve still got many miles to go until they reach parity with internal-combustion engines. A recent study of EV perceptions among 2,300 drivers in 21 US cities showed sticker shock was considered a “major barrier” for new car buyers, even when savings from fuel economy were factored in.
But, now that prices are truly starting to fall within reach of the average American driver, prices could soon become just a speed bump for the EV industry.
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.