We Need an iCar, Market Experts Conclude

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100 industry experts were polled by financial services firm Ernst & Young last week on what the electric vehicle market really needs, and somehow the answer coming out was: “The market needs an iCar.”

Apple Does Not Make an Electric Car

The poll didn’t come out and specifically ask the ghost of Steve Jobs to design and market an electric car, but one can’t help but think the idea wasn’t far from their minds. After all, Apple has demonstrated tremendous success, largely by hanging back until someone comes up with a product, and then figuring out how to put their own colors on it and make it look cool (an Apple OS is basically Linux with a pretty skin, for instance).

The conclusion reached by the mass of industry experts was that the electric car industry needs to create an EV with “mass appeal.” This seems so incredibly straightforward that I’m really not sure why they needed a panel of experts to reach this conclusion; consumers want range and low cost up front, as well as somewhere to charge their EVs when they’re not using them (according to a poll published not long ago). Once EV technology can meet those demands, sales are likely to improve.

Electric Car = Consumer Electronics?

Ernst & Young’s report also pointed out something rather clever, in the midst of stating the obvious; electric cars are one step closer to becoming a consumer appliance. In Japan, they’re regarded as giant mobile batteries that could be equally useful in a disaster scenario or during wilderness camping (not that there’s much of that in Japan) when taken out of the context of a passenger vehicle. In that light, a massive push toward creating an image of the EV as something cool and desirable (much like an iPhone) might create some different and positive associations in the public eye.

Electric vehicles are currently closely associated with renewable energy, zero emissions, and reducing the carbon footprint—none of which are particular hallmarks of Apple (hello, factories in China) or indeed consumer electronics in general, and none of which help generate mass appeal. However, common standards, innovative business models (something like car sharing, which is currently available in many places, or battery leasing), and clearer subsidy systems are also mentioned as necessary to brighten the outlook of the electric vehicle market.

Questions or comments? Let us know!

Source: Business Green | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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