Friday, May 14, 2010

Electric Cars: Like Washing Machines or Cell Phones?

Washing Machine, Cell Phone, Chevy Volt

Deloitte Consulting said Thursday that pure electric cars will represent less than 5 percent of the car market in 2020. That�"s only halfway to the 10 percent mark that Nissan expects.

Deloitte�"s Robert Hill said the adoption of electric cars will match the slow acceptance of 20th-century consumer breakthroughs like washing machines�not the fast embrace of more recent innovations like the cell phone.

It took the washing machine from 1930 until 1975 to go from 10 percent use in US homes to 70 percent. On the other hand, the same jump for cell phones merely took a decade.

Brand Awareness for Electric Cars

The slow rate of adoption is not Deloitte�"s only warning for Nissan. The consulting firm said that auto buying is mostly about brand, and that consumers don�"t think of the Nissan (or GM) brands when they think about electric cars.

A Deloitte survey found that 17 percent of consumers would prefer to buy an electric car from Toyota, 15 percent from Honda and 12 percent from Ford. GM's Chevrolet brand was fourth at 8 percent, and Nissan was ninth at 4 percent. Deloitte says that Nissan and Chevy will have to spend more on marketing to educate the public about their electric cars, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

Deloitte estimates that Toyota and other automakers spent about $10 billion in the past decade promoting hybrid cars, which still make up less than 3 percent car sales in the US.

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