Carmakers are going back to the drawing board as EVs are not quite popular

Article by Christian A., on March 12, 2013

It has become clearer that electric vehicles won’t be the ultimate solution for lowering CO2 emissions like once thought. That’s why automakers are once again putting their thinking caps on to come up with fuel-saving technologies. People are realizing that conventional hybrids and sluggish-selling battery cars won’t be sufficient to cope with the strict EU emissions limits. Volkswagen had introduced the diesel-electric XL1, a low-riding two-seater that uses up less than a liter of fuel per 100 kilometers – at the 2013 Geneva auto show. Meanwhile, PSA/Peugeot Citroen had presented a compressed-air hybrid at the auto show too. Most automakers are on course to comply with the EU's interim goal of cutting the average CO2 output of vehicles to 130 grams per kilometer by 2015.

However, radical steps are required to meet the 95 gram target established for 2020 and the possibility of higher tougher standards after that. When interviewed, PSA innovation chief Jean-Marc Finot said that the company can’t reach past the gains that it needs with just traditional technology. According to Arthur Wheaton, automotive expert at Cornell University, the advancement in battery technology is unable to resolve the issues of too much weight and limitations in its range capability. In a survey last January, KPMG said that the optimism about the future of electric cars has diminished significantly even with the billions invested by companies like Renault-Nissan.

Toyota had debuted the Prius hybrid in 1997 but it has recently scrapped plans for a wider sale of the battery-powered eQ last September, saying that it had misinterpreted the demand. Due to high costs, Opel reduced plans to build a fully electric Adam subcompact, while Audi put on hold the electric R8 coupe and Nissan cut the price of its Leaf after poor sales. Francois Bancon, Nissan's upstream development chief, said that the demand for electric cars isn't where they expected it will be. Bancon added that the industry is “a bit lost” during this highly uncertain stage.

Topics: electric car

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