From about 2000 to 2006, many of the same people criticizing electric vehicles had the same beef with the Toyota Prius. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Diane Katz and Henry Payne said hybrid cars are not “what the public wants.”
Fast forward to 2012 and the Prius is now almost universally considered a success no matter your take on the environment or the geopolitical ramifications of our dependance on oil. The Prius line is now the third best selling line of cars, with 1.2 million sold in the US since its introduction. That’s pretty exciting news for electric car owners and supporters, but could a car like the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV ever sell 1.2 million cars? The answer is yes.
Amid the news reports on an idling Chevy Volt plant and the feigned anxiety about battery explosions, it is helpful to look at the numbers. Sales data on the first full year for which the Prius and the Leaf were sold (in the US) show that the Leaf outsold the Prius by more than 4,000 units. The Prius, in its first full year on the US market sold 5,600 (1) cars compared with 9,674 Leafs sold in its first full year of US sales. (2)
Add to the fact that while the concept of a hybrid was a departure from a 100% internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, it pales in comparison to the leap in technology that a 100% electric vehicle represents.
History is indeed repeating itself, and this time the world will be a better place because of it.