Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Volt, New Technologies, and the Gartner Hype Cycle

In understanding the introduction and diffusion of a new technology, the Gartner Hype Cycle graph can provide some valuable insights as to why the plug-in electric vehicle hasn't become a smashing success overnight. To be sure, the Volt has become "Obama's Car" in the eyes of many Tea Party Leo-Luddite naysayers, and the vehicle has been politicized to no end. Second and third generation vehicles will be forthcoming and slowly will gain an increasing number of adherents, that I am sure of. The key here is price, quality, reliability, and market size. Look to the historical example of Henry Ford and the Model T, for example. For Henry the market was rural inhabitants bound to the land and isolated. For the likes of the plug-in, it is the city dweller, and the majority of Americans live in cities. It comes down to price! Drop it substantially, and the buyers will come in droves. That is the challenge facing GM, and indeed the other makers of plug-ins and zero emission vehicles. Elon Musk can make rather expensive technological demonstrator toys, but whoever comes up with the "People's Plug-In" or electric car, will transform the 21st century.

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