The Geneva Motor Show has indicated that there is a strong interest for the greener cars across the Globe. Almost all the companies are gearing towards a green future. While Toyota is ahead in the race with the Prius being already successfully marketed, Chevrolet is catching up with Volt and Nissan is all set to launch Leaf.
From the initial results of Toyota’s Prius sales, it is clear the consumers are willing to lap up the hybrids. Nissan has been so successful in creating a buzz for the ‘Leaf’ that people are really anxious to have a ‘Leaf’ as a prized electric car possession. Infact, things seem to point towards a greener future for the cars.
However, the question behind all this glitz and glamour of new product launches for hybrid and electric vehicles is whether or not we are geared towards attaining green and electric environment? There are a few concerns on the way. Like the question that are we really so sure that the batteries that will drive electric cars won’t have any implicit or explicit impact on the environment? Or better still, who will be offering the batteries to provide a decent mileage on a full recharge of the battery? Or, who will fund the building of electric charging stations across streets and towns? Infact, there are more unanswered questions than the ones that have any concrete answer.
As of now, anything that does not have a gas-engine seems to be mistaken as a greener alternative. Compared to the present day CO2 emission-ridden automotive technology, the hybrids and electric cars seem to have been given a clean chit as far as environment is concerned. Nobody seems to be interested in thinking about common sense questions that are going to decide whether these cars will be eventually adopted for use by consumers.
And if the consumers were to adopt the hybrids globally, whether the cars will be adopted at the level of Lexus sales in the US or at the level of a normal and compact small car that is driven by majority population.
In the first instance, we need to understand whether automobile manufacturers would be able to deliver commercially viable hybrid vehicles. And they need to do so consistently. So, we are looking at a uniform supply of hybrids year after year. And on a similar basis, we are looking at consistent maintenance for these cars year on year.Are the manufacturers ok with this?
Next, we need to ask the source of batteries that will power the hybrids and electric cars. Current research and technology does not allow a very high mileage on a full-recharge of the batteries. Furthermore, the weight of the batteries and number of units that will be used to power-up these cars needs to be brought down for a mass-scale adoption of hybrids.
And then you need to consider the massive investment that needs to be made in creating docking stations for charging electric vehicles in towns. While the Governments have shown initial interests in putting in the investments to build charging stations, there are other operational and maintenance issues that need to be taken care of.
Finally, if the hybrids and electric cars were to remain within the realms of a few towns and States in the US and a few countries in the European market then the cars would qualify to be called electric gadgets rather than mass-market products that can drive people in the West and across the Globe.
Effective green technology needs to be able to produce products that are mass-market and not niche-dominated. While there is a clear fad for hybrids and electric vehicles as of now, next couple of years will throw in the pointers if the hybrid technology is able to deliver on what is promised – A Green & Clean Environment across the Globe. Until then, we will continue to see a surge in scores of new vehicle launch ceremonies at motor shows across the Globe.