Electric Car Market To Gain Some Focus

Pike Research is out with a forecast for electric vehicles for 2011 that doesn’t quite suggest the fuzzy, question-filled market will gain perfect clarity, but does predict a “year in which many … answers will come into greater focus.”  The firm’s white paper – available for free on the Pike website – provides a mix of hopeful and not-so-hopeful predictions for EVs in 2011.

Range anxiety? It’ll “prove to be more fiction than fact,” Pike says. “EV owners will be required to make many adjustments while getting to know their new vehicles, one of which will be learning how far they can travel before needing a charge. Owners are likely to adjust quickly, aided by an abundance of reminders provided both in vehicle and via mobile phone applications.”

Nissan Leaf, Portugal, prime minister

image via Nissan

But even as they learn when to charge, electric vehicle owners, Pike says, might not be pleased at the charging process. “Automakers will get pushback from EV owners regarding the length of time it takes to fully charge a vehicle,” the firm predicts.

Pike also takes a moment to peer into the future for the EV charging companies, and sees trouble for some and growth for others. It sees large, established companies like Eaton, GE, Leviton and Siemens coming into the market and driving down prices, providing a challenge to smaller niche companies, such as Coulomb Technologies, AeroVironment and ECOtality, that have been dominant so far. Within a few years, Pike says, the small guys “will likely either ally themselves with larger companies or be acquired by them.”

And one last prediction from Pike that rings so true you could bet money on it: “Someone somewhere will have a bad EV experience and the media will overreact,” the researchers say. “The first time a driver is left ‘stranded’ by running out of charge will be cause célèbre for the doubters to highlight the superiority of gas cars.”

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.