Electric Cars are Toys for the Rich

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

It turns out that the majority of electric car owners share something in common.  They’re rich (see Electric-Car Buyers Younger And Richer Than Hybrid Owners by Jim Gorzelany posted 4/22/2014 on Forbes).

Based on calendar-year 2013 sales, the study found that 55 percent of electric vehicle buyers are between 36 and 55 years old and have an average household income of $175,000 or more. By comparison, 45 percent of those driving hybrid-powered models off the lot are 56 years old or older (compared to just 26 percent of new EV owners), with only 12 percent having an annual income of $175,000 or higher.

So electric cars are toys for rich people.  Why?  Because working-class people can’t afford to throw money away.

This would more or less reinforce the popular wisdom that hybrids, which typically cost only nominally more than comparable conventionally powered models, appeal more to family minded penny-pinchers than do the pricier EVs, which pack more in the way of high-tech luster and are often purchased as rolling status symbols (they also require a certain infrastructure – i.e. a garage with an updated electrical system for charging – and because of their limited range are usually the second or third car in a family’s fleet)…

… buyers of both EVs and hybrids tend to reside in more affluent zipcodes than typical consumers, with most green-car buyers clustered in hip cities along the west coast.

A gasoline-powered car is utilitarian.  It’ll get you to and from work.  Day or night.  Rain or shine.  Hot or cold.  If you need heat, headlights, windshield wipers and an extra hour to get home because of slow rush-hour traffic the gasoline-powered car gives you these things.  Unlike an electric car.  Because all of these things drain the battery.  Making getting home in night, rain and cold a risky proposition.  Especially if you get stuck in rush-hour traffic.  Which is why electric cars are “usually the second or third car in a family’s fleet.”  And who can afford having 2-3 cars in a family?  People earning more than $175,000 a year.  People who take their electric car out for nice, short afternoon drives.  Then get into old reliable (gasoline-powered car 1 and/or 2 in the family’s fleet) when they really need to get somewhere.

But even having two other cars can’t do anything about the weather.  For rich people in Minnesota are probably not driving their electric car to work in a February blizzard.  Which is why the most popular places to own and drive an electric car are on the west coast.  Where it rarely is winter.  So the rich may take the electric car out of the stable for a pleasant afternoon drive.  But working class people who have to deal with night, rain and cold on a daily basis will be driving to work as they always have.  In their gasoline-powered car.  For after a hard day’s work there is nothing better than going home.  Which is why they drive gasoline-powered cars.  Because they will always get you home.

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