After years of uneven returns, the electric vehicle industry is officially here to stay. The same could not be said as recently as June 2013, when Reuters covered the bankruptcy of suppliers to the “failed” electric automaker Coda and warned of the “challenges of the ‘green’ car industry.” Bloomberg framed the story as another company to bite the dust in a line that included A123 Systems and Ener1 Inc., both makers of car batteries, in what was a “shrinking market,” per an article subheader. At the time, Tesla’s fame and fortune were unthinkable.
Less than a year later, the sales of plug-in electric vehicles were up 50 percent compared to 2013. That won’t end the tales an industry reliant on government subsidies and of vehicles comparable to ugly golf carts that populate the Internet. In fact, electric vehicles will be fighting an uphill battle for the foreseeable future. It’s a numbers game.
The vehicles themselves are sometimes to blame. From the world’s top automaker to its least worthy adversaries, some electric vehicles have been part of the problem rather than the solution. Here are seven cars that made things worse for the EV industry.
1. Cadillac ELR
The first electric Cadillac was based on the same power train as the Chevy Volt, yet it debuted with an MSRP of $75,995. That fact alone struck so many publications as ludicrous that a chain reaction of bad notices followed. A Consumer Reports staff member was quoted calling it “a $75K version of the Chevy Cruze.” That’s not nice.
These reactions dug a siginifcant hole for the ELR, giving GM a headache it could not have expected. Still, the moral of the story is simple: If you are going to build the first electric car in a luxury brand’s history, either make it an improvement upon everything else in the corporation’s past or don’t do it at all. Following the release of the ELR, GM appeared overmatched in the electric vehicle industry, which in turn gave skeptics another bit of ammunition to use against EVs.