Who Killed the Electric Car? asked the title of the 2006 Chris Paine documentary about General Motors' dearly departed EV1. Well, Reuters appears to be doing its best to fit that bill.
The wire service, which notably published an article last year saying that General Motors was losing $50,000 for every Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in sold, is at it again, penning what appears to be an early obituary for EVs.
Specifically, Reuters cites Nissan Leaf sales as proof that EVs are "not ready for prime time" and uses last week's news item about Nissan joining up with Ford and Daimler on hydrogen fuel-cell technology as a signal that Nissan-Renault chief Carlos Ghosn is waving the white flag when it comes to EV sales. Reuters says Nissan's failure to meet half of its 2012 goal for 20,000 Leaf sales in the US reflects the "public's yawning indifference to green vehicles" and makes Ghosn's goal of EVs accounting for 10 percent of all new vehicle sales by 2020 impossible.
Reuters, it should be noted, last year estimated that each Volt cost about $80,000 to make putting its per-unit loss in the $50,000 range. GM responded by calling Reuters' math "grossly wrong," saying Reuters stretched the model's fixed costs over too small a sample size to be accurate. Sales of both the Volt and Leaf jumped during the fourth quarter of 2012. The Volt tripled its 2011 sales last year, while Leaf sales were up 1.5 percent in 2012.