An essay in the May issue of Harvard Business Review makes the argument that vehicles like the NEV will be the future of transportation. The premise is that in the future car ownership will decline significantly as ride-sharing services become a more dominant mode of transportation. Given that most driving trips are local, NEVs are positioned well for this changing market, particularly in urban areas. Industry analysts view car-sharing services and autonomous vehicles as the future. An analyst from Morgan Stanley used the following graphic to illustrate the expected shift in car ownership and use.
There are some statistics that indicate the transformation is already under way. “… the average person uses his car for only one hour a day, according to a still-widely cited 1995 statistic from the U.S. Department of Transportation. And driving by U.S. household fell nearly 10 percent between 2004 and 2014, marking the first major shift in car ownership since World War II.” However, it may be a while before a wholesale shift happens, if it ever does. Learn more: Huffingtonpost.com
Comment: While NEVs are popular in certain areas, like vacation communities and gated communities, they have not quite gained traction as predicted. In fact, SVR’s research shows that their use has largely switched from predominately personal transportation to commercial use, such as on college campuses and resorts. One reason is that more municipalities are allowing golf cars or modified golf cars to be used on public roads. The price differential between these and NEVs make the NEV the less frequent choice in these areas. Where ordinances are more restrictive, NEVs have proven to be a popular choice. The key to expanding the market is allowing the vehicles to travel at a higher speed than the currently regulated 25 mph. A NEV with a top speed in the range of 35 mph to 45 mph, often referred to as a medium speed vehicle (MSV), would open up the market considerably but this would require significant and costly changes in NEV safety equipment and/or design. NHTSA has been adamant about not creating an MSV classification as currently envisioned, and they are not enthusiastic about the mixing of NEVs with highway capable vehicles on public roadways. But in the future autonomous technology and advances in safety technology could improve safety and lower the costs of safety equipment enough to make MSVs viable.