We’ve been hearing from practically every car manufacturer that they will be releasing plug-in electric models of popular cars. Enough with the announcements, we need actual sellable cars in dealerships. Instead, we have Volt in 2010 (and it’s arguably a pretty significant development that is coming in on schedule), Toyota is dragging their feet on a plug in Prius, who the hell knows what is going on at Tesla these days, Chrysler is showing off 2 plug ins that have the magical 2010 delivery date, and now even Mini is showing a prototype.
We’ve known for a little while now that BMW would be introducing an electric version of its iconic MINI, and now we have the photo proof as Autocar has taken the wraps off the new electric car.
In all fairness, building cars is not easy because in addition to just making it work you have to meet regulatory requirements for safety and performance, their are driver and passenger comforts that are essential, and the actual manufacturing process is a web of supplier and scheduling complexities. But many of these vehicles are existing platforms refitted with a new power and drivetrain, and energy storage system. Few of these vehicles are like the Volt, a ground up new vehicle design, yet many of them have the same delivery date. I suspect market forces are a bigger predictor of delivery schedules than actual engineering requirements, and it may well be that no one sees being first as a competitive advantage.
Every car company in the world has made some noise about plug in electrics but where are the actual production vehicles? This is not new technology, it’s the evolution of existing technologies and many of these companies have been working on this publicly from 2006 and earlier (indeed electric cars go back over 100 years to production vehicles from Porsche in 1899).