The electric car has run into several market cross winds that didn’t exist at the start of President Obama’s term, and these forces could slow or squash the car’s commercial aspirations.
Since Obama took office in 2009, U.S. oil production has surged. World oil prices have spiked, then ebbed, thanks to higher world production and lagging economies. And last year, automakers signed a major pact with Obama to make cars more fuel-efficient through 2025.
For electric cars, this means the nightmare scenario cannot be ruled out. Oil prices could stay low, easing car buyers’ concerns about pain at the pump. As oil increasingly comes from North America, shoppers may worry less about the source. And with fuel-efficient models getting 40, 50 or more miles per gallon, the consumer may be hard-pressed to pay several thousand dollars more for an electric.
Instead of becoming the mass success Obama envisioned, electric vehicles, or EVs, may get stuck in the “niche” category.