Consumers Still Reluctant to Plug In to Electric Vehicles, Expert Says

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Smith says. “This isn’t something that’s going away soon.”

Tanvir Arfi, global president of SPX Service Solutions, the Troy, MI-based division of SPX Corp., says his company has specifically gotten into the EV infrastructure market (mostly the manufacture of charging stations) specifically because the company believes electric cars aren’t going away. Arfi spoke to me on a break from the “Business of Plugging In” conference.

“I think, during the next few years, the mass adoption of EVs will happen,” Arfi says. “Our research shows that consumers make the decision to purchase an electric vehicle based on three criteria: price, how far the car can go without needing to be charged, and the level of availability of infrastructure. Our focus is on building the infrastructure.”

SPX, like many electric-vehicle suppliers, has received tax incentives and other awards from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy. Arfi also says SPX has been identified as one of a few companies in line for funding to build a national infrastructure of charging stations, should consumer demand ever require it. Government confidence aside, Arfi admits that significant demand for SPX’s products is, at the moment, mostly limited to Europe and in the fleet vehicle market.

“We are noticing a demand,” Arfi says. “The volume isn’t significant, but there is demand.”

Smith says that volume likely won’t increase unless a paradigm shift takes place. “It would take an environmental or economic catastrophe to make electric vehicles more mainstream,” Smith says. “When we look at electric vehicles, we still don’t have an energy storage option that can compete with gasoline. But if gas shot up in price, it may change the way we think of cars. It would change the paradigm.”

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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  • Lori

    Some of us would love to have one, but don’t have someplace where we could recharge. People in apartments or without garages have no place to plug it in. The more we see recharging stations, the more these cars will sell. It’s a chicken and the egg scenario unfortunately.