It seems that every day in our commute to work, spotting a hybrid vehicle is not uncommon. Sometimes we may even catch a glimpse of an electric car. But how green are American drivers compared to other nations? Continue reading for an answer and some explanations for your consideration.
Looking at the numbers
According to the ‘Energy Tribune’ pure electric car sales in America made up 0.1 percent of all car sales in 2012. Considering the heightened level of awareness around the benefits of going green, this figure is surprising. In addition, the downed economy and high gas prices point to electric cars as a good way for consumers to save money in such downed times. But buyers aren’t scrambling to the showrooms to invest in sustainable vehicles. So who is the world leader in green driving practices? If you are driving down the E18 from Oslo to Drammen you will see significantly more electric and hybrid cars than you would on the US 10 Freeway. That’s right; Norway is the world’s leader in electric car sales with a whopping 3 percent. Auto manufacturers like Mitsubishi, Nissan, Citroen, Peugeot and Tesla Motors give Norwegians a reason to get excited about reducing emissions while keeping travel and commuting costs to low levels.
It is mind boggling that Norway is the world leader in green car sales considering that public transportation is the primary means of travel in non-rural areas. This may also cause some head scratching considering that, per capita, there are far less people in Norway than there are in America. Furthermore, unless you live in New York City, most urban areas have subpar subway and bus systems when comparing the options and efficiency to the ones in Scandinavia. So why aren’t more Americans buying green cars when we have much greater need for them?
Perhaps our country’s car culture is too dominant in celebrating its rich tradition of muscle car and classic autos. Hollywood movies have played a huge roll in dictating American car sales figures. Films like ‘Grease’, ‘Bullitt’, and ‘The Fast and the Furious’ helped launch the obsession over classic Ford convertibles, Mustang GTs and Dodger Chargers. Sales numbers boosted significantly around the time these films were released. In fact just ask any veteran San Diego Auto Repair shop if they see more classic cars or green cars. These auto shops are certified to work on the latest electric and hybrid vehicles. However, those old and much loved classics roll in and out of their garages on a regular basis.
Cost and distance
Another plausible reason for the low sales numbers might have to do with the fact that Americans aren’t satisfied with the range a vehicle can get in a single charge. Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs conducted a survey of more that 2300 adults in 21 large American cities in order to perceive the low number of electric car ownership in the nation. The primary drawbacks were the price of the cars and the limited driving range that requires frequent battery charging.
When comparing Norwegian drivers to American ones, this finding isn’t too big of a shock. Americans travel longer distances by car than any other populace in the European Union.
Perhaps as technology advances to meet American consumer requirements, sales will go up. It appears that in order for more Americans to embrace green driving habits the vehicle prices must go down. Furthermore, the batteries need to be improved. And finally, Americans simply need to surrender their affairs with Hollywood’s car culture in exchange for a relationship in green car love.