Toyota says the hype around electric cars could prove more harmful than good. If too many automakers start making boasts that prove untrue, it will damage the entire industry.
Bloomberg: “Managing expectations is critical,” Michael O’Brien, Toyota’s U.S. corporate manager for advanced technology vehicle planning, said at a briefing in Sacramento, California, yesterday. “If consumers are disappointed, market adoption is not guaranteed and that can permanently harm the technology’s image and future market potential.”
Companies need to give accurate estimates for driving ranges and recharge times, particularly because battery-powered cars will be much more expensive than traditional gasoline models, O’Brien said. Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. are among carmakers planning battery-powered autos as environmental concerns spur demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.
“Consumers will not widely adopt a new technology product unless it is better in every way than what is available,” O’Brien said. “Anecdotal evidence of robust markets is not a substitute for true market acceptance.”
We’re not so sure this going to be that big a deal. We anticipate the early adopters of electric cars being zealots who will overlook the shortcomings of driving an electric car. If the battery is a little short of what’s promised, we don’t think the first customers will complain.
It’s a psychological thing. If you overpay for something that’s impractical, you don’t want to admit to yourself, and you certainly don’t want to admit it to your neighbours who might laugh at you.
Will the battery come up short of what’s promised? Probably. But that’s true of just about every single gadget on the market. Ask any iPhone owner.
Plus, by the time the electric car is ready for the masses, probably not for another 5 years or so, batteries may have improved enough to deliver the range that’s being promised today.
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