Electric Vehicles Sputter Out – 2014 Sales Dwindling Badly

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It feels slightly childish to take glee in watching liberal dreams come crashing down to reality, but I guess you have to get pleasure from the small things in life. My latest petty thrill came from seeing the numbers from Edmund.com regarding electric vehicle sales over the last year. Even in a booming automobile market, electric vehicles saw their sales decline in 2014, accounting for a miniscule 3.6% of new car sales since January. Can’t you just imagine a hipster sitting in his Earthopod, drinking a cup of Chai tea, knuckling away a teardrop as he sees this story on Hacker News? If that sounds implausible, you should really surround yourself with more lefty nutballs. They can be a source of almost endless amusement.

Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said, “The whole automobile market has grown. We’re not seeing electric vehicles as part of that growth.”

This news is taking the automobile market experts by surprise. Less than a decade ago, forecasters thought electric cars were poised to be the next big thing. They thought for sure that the market would at least make progress from one year to the next as costs came down and engines improved. What they didn’t count on was the green movement being as much a mainstream fad as hula hoops and grunge rock. There will always be a segment of the population devoted to the whole hippy ideal of saving the environment, worshiping Mother Earth, and walking around barefoot, but the days of trendy environmentalism are just about over. Manufacturers producing today’s electric cars are catering to a niche audience.

Where electric cars have their biggest chance of success is in making it cheaper for people to drive. When gas prices are causing consumer shellshock, electric vehicles sound like something worth looking into. Unfortunately for the electric car, though, gas prices are leveling off and we’ve become accustomed to spending $30 to fill even the smallest cars. When you break down the math on the higher prices of these vehicles, it makes even less sense to trade in your traditional engine for the purring Prius.

Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate innovation. If the future of vehicular travel lies in electricity, I would be just fine with that. It’s not like I’m so addicted to fossil fuels that I’m willing to stick up for it despite all reason. It’s just a means to an end. But until the electric car can match that end – until it can stand toe to toe with the internal combustion engine without flinching – then we aren’t ready for widespread adoption. Today’s electric cars are light in power, short in the aesthetics department, and provide almost nothing in the way of environmental improvement.

My biggest problems with the electric vehicle are twofold: they represent a wrongheaded movement, and they are being subsidized with taxpayer money. Their association with the environmentalist weirdo movement is enough to make them wholly unappealing, and the fact that we’re paying to have them produced is a small outrage. Let’s let the electric car fail or succeed on its own merits. From the latest numbers, it would appear America has spoken.