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Why is the EV Adoption Curve So Flat? Check Out the Ford Focus Electric

A couple of times a year, I order up a free “press pass” and head out to a local conference on electric vehicles. Tonight, I’ll be driving south, staying with a friend in Los Angeles, then getting up early and continuing down to San Diego for the first day of the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure USA 2012. Topics include:

• Market Outlook for PEV Charging Infrastructure

• Overcome Charging Concerns to Convince Consumers

• Wireless Charging: The Future of EV Charging

• Roadmap for Multi-Unit Residence Vehicle Charging

• Adaptive Strategies of a Global Market

• The Role of Middleware Solutions

• Sustainable Methods to Extend EV Range

• DC Fast Charging Solutions

I don’t think I’ll be the only one asking tough questions of the panelists, insofar as anyone can see that the EV adoption curve isn’t what most people (including me) had predicted a few years ago. What really happening here?

By my wits, it’s summed up in the new Ford Focus Electric ad, featuring photographs the gasoline-powered car and its new battery-powered brother side by side. They look identical, but the electric version is $40,000 — two-and-a-half times the sticker price of the other ($16,500). So the customer now can have a who-cares car, worry about running out of charge, and pay an extra $23,500 for the privilege. That’s something to get excited about, isn’t it?

If I were trying to show customers the folly of electric vehicles, and get them to stick with the good ol’ gas-burners for as long as possible, this is exactly the way I’d do it. Sure makes you wonder about the intention of that ad.

I notice that the head of market strategy at Coda has been asked to make a presentation. Seriously? Isn’t this like learning about sobriety from Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan? And in the case of Coda, the consumer value proposition contains all the nonsensical elements of the Ford Focus Electric — but wait, there’s more! Not only is the car even far less attractive than the Ford, but the customer is expected to buy the car (and its warranty) from a company whose continued existence is incredibly unlikely. Sounds like the deal of the century.

Sorry for the sarcasm; regular readers will recognize that I actually support electric transportation. But I’m also a big fan of sanity and reason, ingredients that, for some reason, are distinctly lacking here.