Last week’s high-profile battle between a New York Times columnist and an electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturer has spotlighted some important issues around the adoption of EVs in the United States. On one level, the flap between Times automotive writer John M. Broder and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, raises questions about EVs’ capabilities: What does their relatively short range say about their chances of adoption? Can their environmental benefits and coolness factor overcome consumers’ “range anxiety”?
But on a higher level, the conflict emphasizes that simply putting an innovative product on the market isn’t enough to assure market adoption. EVs are being introduced into an existing context dominated by petroleum-fueled internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles, by the highway system that has been designed around them, by the infrastructure that is used to fuel them and by all of the expectations consumers have grown up with about what it means to get around in a vehicle. Read more