MIAMI (CBS4) – Juan Cordero is car shopping again.
Business has been good enough for the South Miami furniture designer to head back out to the local showrooms. While he wants to save money at the gas pump, he’s still not sure about the latest hybrids or electric cars hitting the market, like Chevy’s Volt.
As a careful shopper, Cordero said prices in the mid $40,000 range is too much for him.
“One is the price and maybe they haven’t tweaked it enough, haven’t done what the consumer is looking for,” said Cordero. “It’s a good looking car, but too small and too expensive.”
With an almost three month inventory of Volts, General Motors temporarily shut down its assembly line. To boost sales and move existing inventory, it’s offering new incentives like 0% financing and $3000 markdowns.
“We sell about two to three Volts a month so it’s not one of our big production cars, big volume cars,” said sales manager Gabriel Camps of Maroone Chevrolet in Doral. “There’s not much coming in looking for it”
It’s not alone.
Nissan’s all-electric Leaf is also a slow seller with its price tag in the mid-$30,000 and limited battery range of about 100 miles per charge. Nissan has reportedly bought back several of them after owners complained they didn’t get the battery life Nissan advertised.
“We’d like to see more growth, no doubt about it,” said Dave Rodriguez, General Manager at Maroone Nissan of Miami.
Publically available electric charging stations for all-electric or plug-in hybrids are one of the biggest attractions for owners of electric vehicles. All they need to do is plug the standardized cables from the station into the vehicle’s universal charging plug. That sounds easy enough, but that’s also one of the biggest problems for anyone who owns an all-electric vehicle in South Florida.
What’s the problem?
It turns out there are hardly any public charging stations in the tri-county area. A new one was just installed in the City of Miami Beach’s Parking Garage at 13th and Collins Avenue. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in Miami Beach.
Critics say without more of them, electric car owners have few choices where they can drive before having to recharge.
“The local and national infrastructure is a work in progress and we haven’t seen, we probably haven’t see as much of an advancement in that area as of yet as we’re hoping to,” said Rodriguez.
Because of battery problems and a lack of consumer demand, Toyota in Japan just pulled the plug on its production of the new all-electric “E-Q” mini car. The company decided to only make about 100 of them and offer them for sale in Japan and California.
Other carmakers including Ford and Mitsubishi, however, are still developing their electric and hybrid projects.
To sweeten the deal for car shoppers, there’s a $7,000 income tax credit to encourage sales throughout the United States.
“I think it is more fear of the unknown right now. I think infrastructure has something to do with it. Once that’s in place and once the battery technology elevates that range past 100 miles per charge, I think you’ll see a much greater acceptance of the project,” said Rodriguez.
Battery and hybrid technology are expected to improve in the future.
The big question right now is “Are consumers ready to spend money today for a technology that has yet to deliver all that it promises?”