Everyone knows CO2 emissions from cars do absolutely no good for the environment. This fact has been drilled into every Americans’ head. To combat this problem, we’ve been offered alternative electric vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius. However, these alternative vehicles have been slow to grow in popularity. Why would anyone want to trade in a perfectly good car for one that’s more eco-friendly? Although companies have pushed for these alternative vehicles, most people haven’t been buying them because they don’t need a new car. And even if they did, the struggling economy certainly doesn’t help people to throw down extra money for an electric car. Aside from not needing an electric car, many people don’t want to switch because electric cars are slower to accelerate and have less power. Cars a like big toys. The rush when accelerating and flying down a highway is something a lot of people wouldn’t give up just to be eco-friendly. For this and many other reasons, the switch to electric cars is an uphill battle.
The Toyota Prius, one of the most popular eco-friendly cars.
While skimming through the business section of the New York Times, I came across an article on General Motors (GM) and Nissan changing their approach to selling electric cars. At the Detroit auto show this past Tuesday, both GM and Nissan showed off more models of eco-friendly cars. GM showed off the Cadillac ELR, a luxury version of the Chevy Volt. This past year, GM sold only 23,000 Volts, totaling less than 1% of total sales. Ouch. By providing more options to consumers, GM hopes to increase consumer interest in going green. Unlike GM’s plan to create more models, Nissan is scaling back prices in hopes to make people switch. This past year was tougher for Nissan, who sold half the number of Leafs they expected. If a surge in sales doesn’t occur soon, the cost of Leaf production will far outweigh revenue. Nissan hasn’t lost confidence, however, as they’ve introduced another, more moderate Leaf priced $6,200 cheaper. While the switch to electric cars hasn’t been exceptionally successful, both GM and Nissan haven’t lost sight of their goal.
The Cadillac ELR at the Detroit Auto Show.
Switching to an electric vehicle is something many people won’t do for awhile. No matter how strong the incentive may be, there will always be those who don’t want to switch. Regardless, companies like GM and Nissan have been working with the government to do their best to coerce people to switch. One of the biggest ways they’ve done so is through providing tax cuts. According to the article, “Volts, Leafs and other electric cars typically qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit and sometimes state credits that lower the effective purchase price” (2 Makers Press the Case for Electric Cars). By providing tax cuts as large as $7,500, these cars become a lot less expensive. However, such a large tax cut is still not enough to beat the price of many other conventional cars. For less than $20,000, consumers have a variety of options from many different manufacturers (Best Cars for Under $20,000).
The Nissan Leaf is a 100% electric car.
It seems that for every step car manufacturers and the government make to push electric cars, there’s always another reason why people won’t switch. Perhaps the biggest problem with switching to electric cars is that there is no immediate reason to. Sure, the amount of CO2 emissions released each year is alarming, but do we see a difference in our daily lives each day? Not at all. Some reports even indicate that air today is cleaner than 30 years ago (E.P.A. Calls US Cleaner and Greener Than 30 Years Ago)! How could anyone see this switch as necessary when there is media that makes it seem so much less important?
Nowadays, factories can no longer pollute like they used to.
In my opinion, a real change won’t occur until the issue becomes serious. For years, the issue of gun control was discussed in Congress but no definitive answer was ever found. Now that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred, the topic of gun control has become a serious issue that people are discussing. Although no simple answer may be found, people are much more motivated to find one than they were before. In the same way as gun control, the switch to electric cars will not occur until something serious occurs that forces people to do something. This may mean something as serious as all the polar ice caps melting, but until then people won’t take this switch as seriously as they probably should. People just don’t like change.
Losing these little guys may be the only way we see change.
1) 2 Makers Press the Case for Electric Cars
2) Best Cars for Under $20,000
3) E.P.A. Calls US Cleaner and Greener Than 30 Years Ago