How rarefied is the electric-car demographic? When Deloitte Consulting interviewed industry experts and 2,000 potential buyers, it found that from now until 2020, only "young, very high income individuals" — from households making more than $200,000 a year — would even be interested in plug-in hybrids or all-electric cars.
Lane also takes issue with the billions of dollars in subsidies offered to automakers for the manufacture of batteries, arguing that research (warning, PDF) concludes that the money will not help in jump-starting the economies of scale that will drive down prices. At least, not as much or as quickly as the President has argued.
The Obama administration claims that offering subsidies for early adopters will open a wider market for electric vehicles, bringing costs down to mass-market levels. Lane counters that such a market does not exist because the majority of Americans have no interest in purchasing electric cars.
Of all the findings in Deloitte's market research, the most poignant was its profile of electric car "non-adopters." They have average household incomes of $54,000, live in the suburbs and rural areas, and depend heavily on their cars. There are millions and millions of non-adopters all across America. They are the middle class.