Automakers Go Electric, Even if Gas is Cheap

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/business/going-electric-even-if-gas-is-cheap.html

This article from the New York Times talks about auto companies investing more in electric vehicles in response to President Obama’s fuel efficiency mandate of 54.5 mpg by 2025, even though gas prices are low.  At the same time, they are trying to develop more fuel-efficient cars within their deadline.

I think it is interesting that these companies are investing in electric vehicles when, as stated in the article, “electrified vehicles make up only 2 percent of overall sales.”  It seems that, in general, people don’t purchase and drive electric vehicles very much at all for various reasons, so it seems like a risky move.  I’m wondering what you think about this.  What would happen if people still don’t buy their electric cars?  How much will it actually help in the bigger picture with carbon emissions, especially since these cars are most likely very expensive, in which case people will be more likely to buy cheaper cars that rely on gas?

I am also wondering what you think of the article in general in terms of interest, structure, etc.  A topic like this, where it is kind of interesting and important, needs to do more to capture the interest of readers, I think.  What would you suggest for this article to hook readers in more?  I noticed that there weren’t very many quotes or anything included in the article.  Do you think that could help?  I also felt that the last quarter of the article became irrelevent when it began to talk about safety measures incorporated in the new vehicles.  Would it be easier to read the article if this wasn’t included at all, or do you think it helps add to the story?

 

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12 Responses to “Automakers Go Electric, Even if Gas is Cheap”

  1. If people still don’t buy the electric cars, then eventually the auto makers will have to go back to focusing their efforts on gas powered cars, make even stronger campaigns for electric cars, or stop making gasoline powered cars all together so that people will be forced to buy the electric cars. It would help the environment a lot if everyone started driving electric cars, however, it won’t help much if its only a small fraction of the population driving these cars, such as those that are very rich. In order for a big impact to be made, the prices of these cars need to be competitive so that people will actually be able to afford them. In addition, there needs to be a variety of these cars so that people with all tastes will want to buy them, such as electric SUVs as well as cars.

    As far as the structure of the article, I believe that it was organized well and got all of the main points across. I feel like it was very easy to read due to the short paragraphs, however, this was also slightly confusing due to the look of it and the fact that they were not separate ideas and most likely just a visual technique. I liked the pictures and feel that having them throughout helped keep my attention since there was something to look at as I read. I do believe that there was an adequate amount of quotes, especially since there was a great deal of information in the article even though it was not all found in quotes. Some additional quotes may have helped to make the ideas more powerful, but I don’t believe they are necessary. Lastly, I do think the last part adds to the article since it is talking about the regulations that must be met since that is what is really driving this change in focus for the auto makers.

  2. I really enjoyed learning more about fuel efficiency and electric cars, as it a topic with which I am not very familiar. I agree with most of your critiques about the article. The last section on new safety measures detracted from the main point and was unnecessary. I would have preferred the article to end with an impactful statement about the new developments in electric cars rather than a quote about safety guidelines. The article seemed to peter out towards the end, as the author moved on to another topic only loosely related to the main idea.
    I think that quotes would have been a great way to hook the reader. The article was written during the Auto Show, and there would have been plenty of people there who could speak about new developments in electric vehicles. I would like to hear from someone in the industry about what consumers should look for, as a way to make the article more relevant to the reader. I am also interested in how the auto industry is adapting to consumer changes. I think that the quote’s from the Fiat representative were effective, but I would have liked to see more of them and from differing perspectives.
    I am also interested to see more about how the auto industry is reacting to the lower gas prices. The author mentioned that they are selling more non-electric cars because they are in demand due to the low price of fuel, but I am also curious about efforts to encourage consumers to buy electric cars despite this.

  3. I’m not sure that quotations were an issue, as the article cited five different quotations. For me, these quotations made the story. The quotations provided an inside look at the opinions of those actually operating in the car industry, and were more indicative about the status of electric cars than the author of the article could ever be. I do agree that it could be considered irrelevant to talk about the impending safety issues, as the focus of the article is not concerned as much about that topic. I think that it is hard to hook readers to be interested in this story with any format of writing. The bottom line is that those interested in news about the automobile industry will like this piece, and that those who are not interested in the automobile industry may not care about this piece. Unless the author/editor decides to sensationalize the article with some catchy headline (Autotrader analyst criticizes government car regulations!), the audience for the piece is pretty much set. Given that information, I think the most appropriate thing to do is make sure the author provides a well-written, complete article for that interested audience. I actually thought that the article was very well-written, with the ending potentially irrelevant but also maybe needed if the intended audience would care about that information.

  4. I think that the biggest issue with this article that should have been addressed further, is that the reason why people are buying more electric based and hybrid based cars is because the world is becoming more eco-friendly. I don’t think that this point was harped on enough in this article. The reason why the automakers are making more eco-friendly cars is because there is a worldwide trend to become more environmentally friendly. This article was also interesting for me to read because I am doing my news story about the autonomous vehicles being researched at the University of Michigan. In my research I have found that many people are not willing to buy nor accept the autonomous vehicles, therefore it poses the question why are the scientists still researching it? Technology and efficiency is what our world is going towards and I think that that is the same with hybrid vehicles. Although gas prices are cheap, the global trend is towards more technologically and environmentally friendly products.
    In terms of the writing of the article I actually found the statistics in the beginning to be very helpful. I can see when writing my own news feature that it can sometimes be hard to choose the ones that specifically are the most important to not only the story but also the viewer. Therefore, I appreciate how this article was written since I know that when writing about these subjects it can sometimes be easy to lose to reader in the details.

  5. This was an okay article, but overall I think the authors kind of missed the point on why exactly companies are “going green” and moving towards electric cars. With new federal fuel-economy standards and taxes on fossil fuel vehicles, electric (or some form of other energy) simply has to be the way to go. The currently low gas prices really don’t mean a whole lot, as it is simply a matter of time before they go up again (and with a limited amount of fossil fuel in the world, they will simply stay at a high price at some point). I would have liked to see the authors explain why companies are moving towards electric cars, rather than comparing gas mileage on most of them. I think the statistics would be more helpful if they compared the cost of the typical electric car to a typical gasoline fueled car (as electric cars are typically much more expensive). They allude to it briefly with the line “We will get technology, but at a price,” he said. “The cost associated with the plug-in minivan is not inconsequential.” but I was hoping they would explain this issue more in depth.

  6. I thought the lede in this story was very strong. I also thought that the spacing in this article was helpful, as it did not come off particularly dense, which is important to readers who wish to gain an understanding of the article without having to sit down for a long period of time to absorb it. The writer effectively used quotes from Sergio Marchionne to explain the benefits and drawbacks to the movement towards more fuel efficient vehicles. I also found the safety discussion interesting, as the author did a great job of addressing several different current issues surrounding the auto industry, and was able to present them in a digestible manner.
    As far as the topic itself is concerned, I find the electric car movement to be very interesting. I do understand that the low gas prices serve as a disincentive for people to switch to more fuel efficient cars, or electric vehicles; however, I believe that this is probably a temporary factor, as gas prices fluctuate constantly, and our fuel sources are finite. I believe that it is advantageous in the long run for car manufacturers to continue investing in this new technology, because eventually I foresee a total movement in this direction, as the demand for electric vehicles increases.

  7. Hi, thanks for sharing!

    I think that I felt somewhat disconnected from this article because I didn’t feel the “why is this important”. I just didn’t feel that the author was passionate about the issue. I felt that maybe if the author had mentioned how electric cars were more environmentally friendly I would have seen the overarching message. I honestly felt from the beginning that the article was boring and it felt that a lot of the thoughts didn’t coordinate. By the time I reached the end of the article I was just thinking, “what”? I agree with you, the ending could have been cut because it just added to the unhelpfulness and clarity of the article. You also raise a really great question of it the environmental factors and if these cars are truly as friendly as they appear. Something to think.

    Overall this was a great article, and it stimulated a lot of great conversation.

  8. I think the article did a good job of talking about the switch in the company manufacturing electric vehicles, but I do agree they could have done more to explain why. While they mentioned that their are monetary incentives regarding the switch, I think it could have been made stronger. However, I did thoroughly enjoy the use of visuals throughout the article to capture the readers attention.

    Also, as an environmentalist I feel the need to bring up the point that people do not often buy electric and hybrid vehicles due to their cost, but putting more into the market will cause a decrease in the price of such technologies. Some countries in Asia have shown that fuel economy can be a selling point if it is affordable and fashionable, and I think the increase in manufacturing will lead to this.

    Finally, I am curious how much these cars will be monitored for their “eco-friendliness” after the VW scandal. Could lead to a good story!

  9. In order to improve the average MPG of a corporation’s fleet, they will need more than just electric options. They’ll need to vastly improve the emissions of fossil fuel using cars as well. Thus, this mandate will still have an impact on over emissions even if no one opts for electric. Further gas prices won’t always be this low, OPEC is currently suffocating their competition with low prices that new companies can’t compete with. A few years from now, gas prices are expected to rise up like before and maybe then electric cars will seem like an affordable option.

    This was a solid article, updating readers on the most current policy and getting quotes from officials that are high up in large automobile corporations. However, more statistics/numbers could have been useful. How much more expensive is it to design and create these electrical cars? What is the difference in pricing between electrical and gas-powered cars at high and low gas prices? These could be very convincing pieces to add to the argument.

  10. I think the author of this article chose an interesting topic, because of the give and take between consumer desire/social consciousness and the companies’ areas of focus economically. I think that the general public is lagging in its understanding of climate change and willingness to act on the matter by reforming personal purchases and lifestyle patterns to help mitigate climate change. For this reason, I foresee electric car manufacturers continuing to meet resistance, and having difficulty lowering prices until a more solid social movement takes place that encourages real action on the part of the public.

    In this vein, I think the author focused too much on the economics of the issue, especially in its discussion pretty much solely of the car companies themselves. I wish he had interviewed consumers to see why they are so reticent to consider electric cars, especially since he includes a quote about how consumers do not want to buy electric cars, but never actually speaks to a consumer. I also would have liked to see more of an investigation on the power of government regulation in shaping consumer choice and willingness to buy such cars, as well as in forcing companies to lower prices to enable consumer purchases.

  11. I believe that regardless of gas prices, companies will continue to invest and design more efficient vehicles such as electric and hybrid options due to the outlook of the future and the general sense of urgency that has been placed on the industry to compete amongst each other in finding the best alternative solutions to vehicles that use fuel. Although it is true that consumers are not buying these types of cars at high rates as of now, I believe that the goal of these companies is to continue working on these types of cars due to their prospective usefulness in the future.

    Just as some of the blog posts have alluded to above, the misinformation and lack of acceptance of climate change among the public is another huge issue that relates directly to the purchasing of certain types of cars. It is not that surprising, then, that only 2% of people are buying these more environmentally friendly vehicles. I would say that because companies are focused on provided these types of vehicles despite public disinterest, this is a positive indication that climate change is at least being addressed in the industry, and that it will continue to be an important factor companies consider in the future, regardless of whether it is currently their biggest source of profit or not.

  12. I really enjoyed hearing about this topic because it is an interesting dillema.I agree with your critiques about the article. My personal worry is that even with the production of more eletric cars will people be able to afford switching from gas to eletric.

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