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Ten essential electric car trends for 2014 |

While last year saw a huge amount ofquestionable media attention in the fallout of three Model S battery fires and a very public disagreement with the New York Times, overall it was a great year for Tesla and Elon Musk. The Model S became Consumer Reports’ highest scoring car ever and the company’s stock reached an all-time high of $193.37. Sales also blossomed in both North America and Europe.

This year, however, will see several challenges for the electric-only brand. Firstly, Navigant Research reckons it will cost at least $62 million for Tesla to come good on its promise of covering 80 percent of the US population withSupercharger stations by the end of the year. Scaling up Model S production from 19,000 units in 2013 to as much as 56,000 this year also comes with quality control issues, and any problems would be pounced upon by the media. There are also new markets, such as China, that demand attention, as do the company’s emerging rivals – the BMW i8 and i3, Audi e-tron, Cadillac ELR and Mercedes B-Class Electric drive all present Tesla with a fight for market share. They’ve come a long way in a short time, but any mistakes now could prove terminal.

Hydrogen fuel cell vs. battery electric: Round Two

The imminent launch of several hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2014 and 2015 will provoke a new wave what Navigant Research describes as “contrived battery electric vehicle versus FCV debates” in the media. Since fuel cell vehicles will offer significant range and a price tag to match, however, they will only compete with luxury electric vehicles – such as Tesla – at first. Who are ‘they’? Chiefly Honda,Toyota, Hyundai, and later Daimler.

This year will see governments and policymakers continue to address the elephant in the room for fuel cell vehicles: refuelling infrastructure. So far there are only ten-or-so public stations in the US, although California has committed to building 100 facilities by 2024. Several large European economies, including Germany and the UK, have also put ‘hydrogen road maps’ in place to cater for the year hydrogen fuel cell takes off – tentatively billed as 2015. The companies building the cars, however, will bide their time to see what the market does.

Electric cars will attract curious carsharing virgins

Navgiant Research has already predicted that car sharing programs – where members can borrow a car at short notice without having to worry about fuel, insurance or maintenance – will grow by 20 percent in North America this year to include more than 22,000 vehicles. Electric cars are going to play a crucial role in that growth.

Not only are electric cars ideal for those who don’t want to own a car, as they don’t require visits to the fuel pumps or expensive servicing, but car sharing electrics offer curious newbies a chance to experience zero emissions electromobility without any commitment. The Parisian Autolib carsharing program, for example, uses only electric cars yet now averages 62,000 rentals each week – enough to prompt a 3,000-car expansion by the end of this year. The Autolib has already emigrated to Indianapolis, too, and, with the backing of city governments keen to promote zero emissions car sharing programs, could be in your city soon.

Electric car makers will diversify, building exciting tech

While European and North American new vehicle sales are almost at a peak, electric car sales will continue to grab an increasing proportion of the market. This is both a boon and a problem for the companies building them, as electric cars require little in the way of maintenance or replacement parts in comparison to their oil-burning contemporaries.

As a result, automakers will offer information and entertainment services which reflect the “state-of-the-art telematics and communications systems” found in their cars, and are even launching their own car sharing schemes. BMW is leading the charge with a host of urban mobility apps developed for the new i3, as well as this recent collaboration with Samsung for CES 2014.



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