Gas beats battery

E-cars Eating SUV Dust

suv_getty
The SUV is riding high at the moment.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The fall in oil prices and poor product offerings seriously threaten the German government’s ambitions to hugely increase the number of e-cars on the roads.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • SUVs made up 18 percent of the German car market in 2014, up from 16.5 percent in 2013.
    • Germany plans to put one million e-cars on the road by 2020, but just 15,000 were sold this year.
    • By 2020, every third vehicle sold in Germany will be an SUV.
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  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The story is 50 years old, but it could be played out in the same way today.

At the 1964 World Fair in New York, General Motors exhibited the Firebird IV, a concept car with a revolutionary, self-driving technology.

At the same show, its rival Ford presented the first model in its legendary Mustang series, built to appeal to the dynamic surge of baby boomers – youthful, powerful and loads of fun.

Ford planned to build 100,000 Mustangs in that first year; in fact, 400,000 were built. But GM’s Firebird IV was never more than a test model.

The lesson of the Mustang and Firebird is still valid today: Much of what seems right and sensible in new car markets is far from a sure thing when it comes to convincing buyers.

Sales figures show the reality. About 15,000 electric cars were sold in Germany in 2014, despite their clean image, 17 models being available and pressure from the government.

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