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Why Combustion Engine Carmakers Are On A Collision Course With Destiny

Editor’s Note: This is an excellent comment we received on CleanTechnica last week that I thought would be nice to share with EV Obsession & CleanTechnica readers. Enjoy! (Slight modifications implemented to fit our style guide and to arrange it more like an article.)

Tesla Model S GreenBy Carl Sparre

They don’t want to sell you an electric car, because they will make less profit from parts, servicing, and sales of their combustion models.

If they sell you an electric car, they have to concede that combustion engine cars are pollution emitters.

They know there’s a tipping point in the market, beyond which sales of combustion cars will drop quickly. Their goal is to reach that tipping point as slowly as possible.

They know that lithium batteries are only expensive because they are not produced in nearly the same volume as gearboxes, fuel injectors, crankshafts, and spark plugs. By delaying market growth, they can maintain the fossil fuel economic advantage a little longer.

They know that lithium batteries are limited in energy density because they have not undergone decades of refinement, as have gearboxes, fuel injectors, crankshafts, and spark plugs. By delaying market growth, they can maintain the distance-between-refuelling advantage a little longer.

They know that once you’ve experienced the joy of driving (in) a silent, vibration-free, rocket-fast, odourless car that never needs petrol, wild horses won’t drag you back to fossil fuels.

The above reasons explain the following:

The Nissan Leaf has no ‘frunk.’ Pull the hood and you see a host of stuff that looks like it needs servicing.

The boot of a Leaf is the oddest shape — it’s not remotely flat. There’s a wall between the hole where the fuel tank would normally be and the rear folding seats. Inside that wall is where they unthinkingly stuffed most of the batteries.

The Leaf has a 150-km range on a full charge. Just low enough to discourage most buyers.

The servicing schedule on the Leaf is the same as a combustion car. At service 1 (10,000 km), they do nothing other than inspect.

I have not seen a single ad on TV (in Sydney) for the Leaf, yet many other Nissan model ads go to air.

But here’s the number one reason they’re dreading the EV revolution: It’s all about brand. Let’s assume that Nissan were to release a “Leaf III,” at the same time as Tesla releases the Model 3 and, let’s also assume that the cars have equivalent range, performance, style, and features. Which car will people buy?

People concerned about Earth’s rising CO2 levels, or city pollution, or oil money destined for the Middle East, who buy the Tesla Model 3 will know they’re supporting a company which is part of the solution, not part of the problem. They know that friends who see the brand on their new car know it’s electric without having to ask. The Tesla will have instantly recognisable status. The traditional motoring brands have no way to put distance between logo and exhaust pipe. Imagine yourself on the road in your Nissan Leaf III and the car ahead is a hulking combustion-engined Nissan, billowing fumes. How do you feel now, supporting the company that produced that monstrosity?

If I were in charge of strategy for one of the incumbent manufacturers, I’d be immediately looking for a way to take what has value from my brand, yet divorce it completely from what will soon have the stigma of smoking cigarettes in a kindergarten. Don’t believe me? Just watch. When you see ads for “Nissan Electric,” an all new company (with a stylish new logo) sponsored by, yet autonomous to, the old “Nissan,” it signals that the new era in motoring has arrived.

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