business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times had a piece over the weekend about how, while "the first wave of people who bought electric cars tended to be affluent, environmentally aware technology enthusiasts who lived in California," that seems to be changing.

"Electric vehicles are starting to go mainstream in the United States after making earlier inroads into the mass markets in China and Europe.

"Battery-powered cars now make up the fastest-growing segment of the auto market, with sales jumping 70 percent in the first nine months of the year from the same period in 2021, according to data from Cox Automotive, a research and consulting firm. Sales of conventional cars and trucks fell 15 percent in the same period. Buyers of electric vehicles in 2021 were more likely to be women and tended to be younger than in 2019, according to Cox data."

The Times notes that "gasoline-powered cars, of course, still account for most of the new car market. But electric vehicles’ share of new vehicle sales almost doubled in the first nine months of the year, to 5.6 percent from 2.9 percent in the same period in 2021, according to Cox.

"That growth could have been stronger if automakers had been able to make more electric cars. Many manufacturers have long waiting lists because production has been limited by shortages of computer chips, batteries and other parts."

The Times also reports that "electric car buyers used words like 'love' and 'awesome' to describe their vehicles. Many said they would never buy a gasoline car again, but many others said they intended to keep at least one conventional vehicle, because traveling long distances by electric car can be inconvenient and sometimes impossible because of difficulties in finding charging stations."

KC's View:

The data suggests that while original buyers of electric cars tended to do so because of environmental concerns, simple economics now are playing a growing role:  "Driving on electricity is generally much cheaper than gasoline. Scores of respondents said they were using energy they generated from rooftop solar panels to charge their cars, potentially lowering costs even further."

Seems to me that the qualms about distances and charging stations eventually will go away, as batteries get better and charging stations become more plentiful and dependable.  Retailers - especially those that have made pumping gas part of their value proposition - are going to have to figure out how to be part of that continuum.  And they'll have to do that sooner rather than later.