With such low fuel prices and high demand for SUV and trucks, the electric cars have been left behind in the US.
The US finished 2015 with gas prices averaging 2.40 dollars per gallon for regular, compared to 3.34 dollars in 2014 and 3.49 dollars in 2013, according to an AAA report. The only time the annual fuel prices were even lower was back in 2009, when gas was at an average of 2.35 dollars. With such low prices, it is no wonder the demand for “green” cars had decreased last year, when the US auto sales hit an all-time record of 17,470,659 light-vehicles. From this impressive figure, only 102,600 plug-in electrics had been accounted, says researcher Autodata, marking a 17 percent decline compared with the previous year.
It is a massive task for the automakers to draw customers towards such cars, when the starting price for a small Nissan Leaf is 29,010 dollars, even if the government offers incentives of 7,500-dollar tax credit. Leaf’s sales fell 43 percent in 2015, while General Motors reported an 18 percent drop for its Chevrolet Volt. “Why should I go electric and pay more when gas is so cheap?” Ludwig Willisch, chief executive officer of BMW of North America, said in an interview. “There needs to be a clear advantage to driving electric: HOV lanes, parking, charging.”
Last year’s sales were also affected by the fact that new models are to be launched soon, said Tom Saxton, chief science officer for the advocacy group Plug In America. “The Leaf and Volt were both hurt by the new versions coming out,” he said. “The Leaf has just in the last month started seeing deliveries of the new model and GM is still limiting sales of the Volt to a handful of states.”