How quickly things can change. Once the darlings of the auto industry, recent auto show debuts and previews of high-mileage hybrid and plug-in electric cars are being met with a collective yawn in the wake of cheap (and getting cheaper) gasoline.
Green car sales were down by around 16 percent last year and can be expected to drop even further through 2016 unless fuel prices suddenly soar. Expect to see casualties among some of the niche players in what could come to be an incredibly shrinking car segment, California-mandated models not withstanding.
Yesterday, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen confirmed that the ELR extended range electric coupe will not live to see a second generation. The car could stick around until 2018, but we expect it could be dropped sooner if sales continue to swoon. A surprisingly stylish EV, the ELR reached dealerships at what looked to be the right time, back in late 2013 when gasoline prices took a far larger bite out of motorists’ budgets.
Starting at around $75,000 the ELR proved to be far too pricey, especially as compared to around $40,000 for the Chevrolet Volt upon which it was based. Sales incentives were not only the norm, but became among the richest in the car business, reaching a whopping $20,000 in direct-to-dealer cash last April. Caddy eventually slashed the price by $10,000, but still only managed to sell 1,024 units last year, which made it the lowest volume model in all of General Motors’ U.S. operations. By comparison, Chevy sold over 15,000 Volts last year, and that was as it neared the end of its first generation with an impending redesign coming for 2016. […]
And now Automotive News reports Toyota may whittle down the number of Prius-badged models it sells in the U.S., again because of gas-fueled consumer indifference.