No matter what Elon Musk-olites seem to think, the electric car isn't a new idea. In fact, electric cars were actually invented in the mid-19th century and outsold gas and steam powered alternatives in 1899 and 1900. Things have gone downhill since. Despite the hype, electric cars remain a niche product. Fewer than 1% of cars sold in the US are electric and more than 1/3 of those sales happen in either Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Suffice it to say the automotive market isn't saturated with electric cars just yet.
AutoNation (AN) CEO Mike Jackson says the auto industry is starting to turn out better electric product but the market is still limited to a core group of enthusiasts. "80% of our customers come in and ask about hybrid or electric cars (but) about 5% our customers actually buy electric cars," he told Breakout.
Jackson says potential electric car buyers are put off by the price tag and lack of infrastructure surrounding the product. Adoption is also slowed by the fact that car manufacturers are churning out much better gasoline powered products. The average new car sold in the U.S. is getting nearly 25 MPG, more than 20% higher than six years ago.
Between the higher prices of electric and improvements in old-school gas powered vehicles most customers simply aren't green enough to make the leap. Electric will slowly eat into the lead but it's going to take more than just great cars from Tesla (TSLA) to take the product to the masses.
Electric car devotees say it's only a matter of time until grimy old school gas stations are replaced by gleaming electric power stations. Jackson isn't so sure. Looking out 25 years he says the roads will still be dominated by gas guzzlers adding, "The internal combustion engine simply isn't dead yet."
Not that he cares much. AutoNation is in the business of selling cars. As long as the government wants to give green incentives and the industry cranks out new alternatives AutoNation and customers both win.
[At the time of publication Jeff Macke owned shares of Tesla (TSLA)]
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