Mark Benson (guest post – ElectricForum.com)
A recent interview by Danish car designer Henrik Fisker cast a very interesting light upon the hybrid market. The well-known car entrepreneur who is making a comeback from bankruptcy has been talking about his love of electric vehicles and his scepticism regarding hybrids. This will come as a surprise to many people who have seen hybrids as the natural steppingstone from gasoline/petrol vehicles towards their electric vehicle counterparts.
Are hybrids finished?
It is a little strange to see somebody with the reputation of Henrik Fisker suggesting that hybrids have had their day and are no longer the steppingstone to electric vehicles. However, if you take a step back and look at the situation from a distance perhaps there are more reasons now to switch from gasoline/petrol vehicles straight to electric cars?
Electric vehicle technology is more advanced today than many experts had expected after coming to the fore at the turn-of-the-century. A mixture of technological breakthroughs together with the added funding from consumer demand and government assistance has created a perfect storm for the industry. This has allowed electric car manufacturers to increase journey capacity, improve reliability and the issue of expensive battery packs is nowhere near the problem it has been in years gone by.
That is not to say that electric vehicle technology has been perfected, is anywhere near finished article but enormous progress has been made of late and this is perhaps one reason why new converts to electric vehicles may well miss the steppingstone of hybrids.
Is government assistance the key?
While some may criticise governments around the world for their financial assistance to the electric car market let’s not forget that every other new technology in years gone by has received similar financial backing. The fact that electric vehicles are significantly more efficient than their gasoline/petrol counterparts together with the reduced impact on the environment perhaps justifies this significant expenditure. Also, let’s not forget that governments of the day will eventually see their investment returned as well as the creation of a long-term income stream as electric cars gain in popularity.
It will be interesting to see how long governments will look to support the industry and whether indeed we eventually see the introduction of an electric vehicle tax. Whatever the authorities say, they will need some form of return in the future and cannot afford to fund the industry forever. That said, when you take into account the subsidies offered to the oil industry around the world is that really a profitable sector?
It will be interesting to see how the electric vehicle/hybrid markets change in the forthcoming years because there is a perception that maybe customers are happy now to switch from gasoline/petrol cars straight to electric vehicles. Historically hybrid cars have been the more natural steppingstone and there are some extremely popular examples out there. However, there is certainly more confidence in the electric car market today, there is greater demand but surely hybrids will be around for many years to come?
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