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Battery fears slow EV charge

2013-05-14 08:01

FEAR OF BEING STRANDED: Customer’s are reluctant to buy an electric vehicle fear of being stranded. Image: Fleet magazine

The former boss of Volvo does not think electric cars are the future of the automotive industry – fear is the key. The thought of a car battery being depleted and leaving you stranded is what concerns people the most.

Stefan Jacoby, former Volvo chief executive officer, said: "If the battery goes down on their cell phone people feel really bad. If it's your car in the middle of a traffic jam you will feel even worse."


It is that emotional connection which is a major obstacle for electric vehicles as well as the price. Such issues are being addressed but Jacoby added: "I don't believe EV's will have a major role in the future. They will have some sort of role, for example in cities as taxis or urban delivery vehicles, but for a normal household, no. Over the next 10-15 years we will see various hybrid solutions, mated to the conventional internal combustion engine playing the dominant role."

Fleet Magazine reports that, as technology moves on, the internet will play an increasing role in the car buying process but there is still a place for the traditional dealer. Jacoby says: "Although they will do all their research online, and in many cases be better informed than salesmen, customers still want to drive the car at some point before making a commitment."

Dealers would still have to move with the times and re-think their business model.

"I was surprised when the South Korean automakers came into Europe and they kept with the traditional dealer network model. This has worked for them and now they have really cool products, but I think they had an idea opportunity to try something new."

By new, he means tapping in to the internet and social networks.

"Taking the car to the customer rather than waiting for them to walk through the showroom door. There is no reason why you can't do away with expensive city centre dealerships and have out-of-town service centres with a showroom element attached."

Jacoby also previously headed up VW's operations in Asia and North America and was CEO of Mitsubishi Europe, reports Fleet Magazine.

He says: "I'm looking at the industry from the outside for the first time in 27 years. One thing that has changed from when I started out is that this is no longer a job for life or one where you are necessarily in the same place all the time.

"When I started out in 1995 you only competed with your fellow Germans. Now you have to compete with people from China, India and all over the world. The pace of change has also picked up – just look at communication: it took radio 38 years to reach an audience of 50-million, TV took 13 years, the internet four years and Twitter just nine months.

"With model development and life-cycle times of 10 years the motor industry is starting to lag behind. It has to learn to move more quickly."


An automotive analyst echoes what we at Wheels24 have been saying for years about electric cars: there's inadequate infrastructure to provide for electric cars, not to mention the strain they would take on local power grids.

You would need to build extra nuclear power plants to cater for recharging should electric cars reach levels of demand comparable with conventional fossil-fueled rides.

Jason Kavanagh, engineering editor at the research firm edmunds.com, said the US power grid could not support large numbers of electric vehicles which need constant charging.

Kavanagh asserted: "You would need a multitude of small nuclear power stations to support that recharging."

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