Aug 5, 2010

Talking down electric cars

Electric cars are going to hit the market in a big way, at least in the United States. And in so many ways US is like India - it never runs short of pessimists, party-poppers, skeptics, doubters and so on...pundits ready to give 1001 reasons why something will fail. Their arguments are all perfectly logical until you stop and think.

One of the biggest 'complaints' is that in comparison with petrol / gasoline driven cars, electric ones are poor in terms of return on investment - they will cost a lot more even with subsidies- so they will bomb. So they expect electric cars to match and exceed their petrol cousins on every parameter including cost, range etc., and until then they would not sell...

That is a strange argument. Since when did people started buying purely on cost and return on investment? People spend over $500 on mobiles when perfectly usable ones can be found for $20 and end up using 1% of the features, only to buy another one after a year. You can get a nice, good looking, functional and decent leather bag or watch for $30 for which some even spend $20,000 or more. People do fly first class, eat in super-expensive restaurants and in many cases spend money simply because something IS expensive, just to show off.

 What I mean is just like other such 'investments' that make no sense financially but deliver enormous value to those that have other criteria, electric cars too will have ready buyers, may be in thousands, tens of thousands,   and over the years, millions of them. Even if they are still expensive, limited in range and speed.

Who knows, they may become a rare political 'statement' that both the right and left would embrace proudly for their own reasons - the left because it is green and cool and the right because it sends less or no money to 'terrorist' pockets. Mr. Limbaugh are you listening?

Good luck to Leaf, Volt and other such pioneers!

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