Sluggish Electric Car Market Forces Discounts and Cuts by GM, Toyota

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With electric vehicles still struggling to find a foothold in the mainstream market, General Motors has offered major discounts on its Chevrolet Volt to move cars off sales lots, and Toyota has scrapped plans for widespread sales of its new all-electric minicar.

While GM reported a record-setting month for Volt sales in August, selling 2,800 cars, an Associated Press report found the increase was due largely to discounts of nearly $10,000, or about 25 percent off the $40,000 sticker price, including low-interest financing and cash discounts.

While those sales indicate consumers will buy electric vehicles if prices are low enough, the fact that dealerships had to offer such steep discounts suggests the technology still has a long way to go before entering the consumer mainstream and becoming profitable for carmakers.

Two years after Toyota announced plans to sell several thousand of its all-electric iQ minicar, the company this week said it will scale back those goals.

“The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,” Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s vice chairman, told reporters.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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