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Looks like this electric car thing might actually happen

By Claes Bell ·
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Posted: 12 pm ET

I've been writing about the economic viability of electric cars lately. I've wondered whether Americans will accept cars with substantially shorter range than conventional cars, and whether the infrastructure needed to support electric cars would ever become a national reality.

I've hoped the answer is yes, because there are a lot of things I like about electric cars -- they represent a chance to finally get U.S. carbon emissions under control, don't require as much maintenance and don't have as many messy fluids and lubricants. That's why I'm excited to see players in the automotive industry making big bets on the technology's real-world viability.

In December, Nissan plans to begin delivering their all-electric LEAF hatchback to some of the 20,000 customers who have placed pre-orders since April. Nissan and Renault president Carlos Ghosn said in an interview this week he expects sales of his company's electric cars to reach 500,000 by 2013. The company just broke ground on a new $1.7 billion factory in Tennessee to produce battery packs for the vehicles, a huge investment even for a multinational giant like Nissan.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S. Photo courtesy: Tesla Motors

Toyota is getting into the act, too, paying $50 million for a stake in Tesla motors, a California-based electric-car manufacturer, and announcing a development partnership between the two companies. The Japanese auto giant, along with Motors Liquidation Co. (the holding company created in the General Motors bankruptcy) also announced plans to sell the NUMMI auto factory in California to Tesla to produce its upcoming all-electric Model S sedan.

And let's not forget plans by Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Toyota and other carmakers to bring pure electric cars to U.S. shores in the coming years. All this adds up to good news, because automakers who have invested millions of dollars in electrics will have a big incentive to use their economic and political power to make sure the needed infrastructure will be there to help electric cars become practical for everyday driving.

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tina juarez
June 04, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Let it be said: There is still plenty of time to get your DIY EV on the road! So let yourself down and build it with lead-acid batteries. You KNOW there will be better batteries down the road & cheaper than they are now.. You too, can be in line waiting for that Lithium battery glut we've been told about!!!
While you're at it, share what you are doing with some kids - middle school and up, if ready-mades ever get on the road they will need some skilled mechanics!
Imagine, with some cleverness, $2K-$10K, you can be driving an EV and contributing to the Education of the new US labor force while you drive to work to earn that $40-$100K for a ready-made. The DIY EV can be sold to the now just-graduated-from-HS kids who can go off to college with transportation they can afford and knows how to keep running [maybe having earned some scholarships on the way] All this in 4-6 years, while the economy recovers, 2 more people wearing that EV grin all the time.
Financial health, environmental health and emotional health! Perfect!

Steve Archer
June 02, 2010 at 11:51 am

Don't let those stars hit you in the eyes too brightly. We have a global liquidity problem that cannot be over-stated. All things great and small will be impacted...and intimately. New car sales have taken a hit and most manufacturers, including Nissan rely on inflated paper one way or another to move their products. The Leaf is a prime example with an MSRP of roughly $34K including the charge station. And what about the Volt at ~ $40K?

Paul Scott
May 30, 2010 at 11:14 pm

As one who has been driving an EV for almost 8 years, and powering it from the sunlight falling on my roof, I can say with some assurance that this technology will take over. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. The only negative is range, and since thousands of charge stations will be installed this year alone, charging infrastructure will not be a problem, besides almost all charging is done at home late at night when rates are cheapest.

Since we use solar for generating our kilowatt hours, our electric bill averages a mere $100 per year. This is for both the house and the car. We haven't been to a gas station since December 202 and we've driven over 82,000 miles - all on sunshine.

The car is silent, and requires virtually zero maintenance. None of our money goes to the oil companies, nor by extension, the Saudis.

Word of mouth will be stronger for EVs than for anything since the iPod.