According to a recent poll, nearly 57% of Americas say they won't buy an all-electric car, no matter what the price of gas becomes. At first glance, this seems like it could be problematic for car dealers like Ford (NYS: F) , Tesla Motors (NAS: TSLA) , and General Motors (NYS: GM) , which have broken ground on engineering electric cars like the electric Focus, and electric Fit. So is it true that the majority of Americans are not interested in electric cars?
The problem with electrics
When you look at the wording of the poll, electric cars are defined as "an electric car that you could only drive for a limited number of miles at one time." And when an electric car is defined like that, who would want to buy an electric car?
Yes, most people's commute is less than Nissan (NAS: NSANY.PK) Leaf's EPA-rated 73 miles on a charge, but if the car can only go that far, and electric charging stations are not exactly as plentiful as gas stations, of course people are going to be less than enthused to purchase electric cars.
Add to that the fact that electric cars are generally more expensive than traditional gas-fueled cars, and it's no wonder that Americans said they wouldn't be interested in buying electric.
So since Americans don't want electric cars, car dealers should abandon their quest to make them, right?
The problem with most electric cars is that they can only go a short distance on one charge, and even if you can find an electric charging station, it takes a while to charge -- Tesla's Model S is capable of recharging in 45 minutes using a fast charging station, but Nissan's Leaf takes anywhere from 30 minutes at a 480 volt quick-change station to about seven hours at a 220/240 volt station; not exactly quick compared to refilling at a gas station.
But what if an all-electric car was capable of going 220 miles on one charge and could be recharged in a fraction of the time? Could that change people's minds about electric?
Lithium to the rescue
Luckily for consumers, car manufactures have recognized that greater distance, quicker recharging time, and more cost effective vehicles are needed in order to compete with current gas-guzzlers. With that in mind, many manufacturers are either using Lithium ion batteries, and/or researching how to make these batteries and cars more cost-effective, while shortening battery recharging time. And the good news is that Lithium ion batteries are already capable of going up to 220 miles on one charge.
Plus, on top of researching how to shorten recharging time and producing more cost effective vehicles, car and battery manufacturers are working with traditional petrol stations and even hotels in implementing charging stations that allow people to stop and recharge electric batteries.
Rephrasing the question
If the above poll questioned readers and asked, "Would you be interested in buying an electric car if it had the same capabilities of a gas car, and was similarly priced?" what would your answer be? I know that personally, my answer would be a resounding, "Yes!"
True, car manufactures have a way to go before we see electric cars on the same level as gas cars, but with car companies like Ford, Tesla Motors, General Motors, Nissan, and Honda already developing electric cars, and researching how to make them more comparable to gas cars, electric cars may very well have a promising future. J.D. Power and Associates expects pure electrics car sales to be around 11,000 this year, and that number is expected to rise to almost 100,000 by 2015.
Now the question is whether or not car manufactures can pull it off? My personal opinion is that they can. Manufacturers have already made huge strides in the development of electric cars -- now they just need to perfect them.
What do you think? Can electric cars overcome the obstacles they face to become a real threat to gas-guzzlers? Sound off in the comments below. Or if you want to keep up with the companies mentioned above, click on the links below to add them to your watchlist:
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorKatie Spencereally wants an electric car because gas is just ridiculous! She does not own share of any company mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Ford Motor and General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.