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Electric Cars Duke It Out: Will It Turn Consumers Away?


2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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Yesterday, there was a piece on MSNBC.com talked about electric car rivalry and the potential for that to distract buyers. The writer cites GM and Nissan both taking potshots at each other’s electric vehicle offerings.

In the worse case, “In the end, the public could wind up mistrusting both.” Why? The root is really the fact that people are still unsure of the technology, how it works and how they feel about it.

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

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GM and Nissan have different takes on the electric vehicle. GM’s is more of a hybrid approach, though they are calling it an “extended range” electric vehicle and capitalizing on the “range anxiety” that some consumers are expressing.

Actually, they are more than capitalizing on it, they are marketing directly to those people with campaigns like “More Car than Electric,” which as the piece points out is seen as a “not-so-subtle swipe at the Leaf.”

Of course, Nissan’s stance is that the LEAF will be more than capable for a large portion of the population and it is truly Zero emissions and 100% electric—you might have seen all the press on the Volt having what I will call “mechanical intervention” from the engine under some circumstances.

The rub for some is that the LEAF will only go up to 100 miles on a charge. Now if you are driving more than 100 miles a day, you probably have stock in OPEC and should be driving a TDI clean diesel (in my opinion).

Where does this leave us? Basically, the piece says we should, as an industry, be making the electric car a positive experience. We need people to want to adopt it—and not just the early adopters on the bell curve. However, it is hard to get people excited when they are being torn between two different concepts and in a no-so-friendly way.

Both products, Nissan and GM’s, are major steps forward in the electric vehicle arena. Now what we need is for people to experience them and understand which one makes more sense for them.

Ultimately, the reliability and user experience will make or break either product. It is like Grandma used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

[Source: MSNBC.com]
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