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01/12/2012 11:20 AM     print story email story         Page: 1  | 2  

Electric Vehicles, Thriving or Not?

Page 1

Some say electric vehicle acceptance is at an inflection point, whereas others say it's far from the interests of the average US car buyer, many of whom have to returned to SUVs as gas prices have stabilized.

Sales of hybrids waned last year, dropping from a measly 2.4% in 2010 to an even measlier 2.2% in 2011, according to auto market research firm, LMC Automotive.

That's largely due to a drop in Prius sales, which accounts for almost half of all hybrids sold. Sales declined 3.2% in 2011, because of manufacturing disruptions in Japan, where it's built. The tsunami and nuclear meltdown, and the floods in Thailand, also caused shortages in many car parts and a
bottleneck in batteries. Still, the Prius hit a milestone earlier in 2011 - it sold its millionth car in the US and 3 million worldwide.

But the lower gas prices go, the less people are interested in those cars, even though $3.60 for a gallon of gas can quickly drain one's wallet.

With the passage of more stringent fuel economy standards under President Obama, which require model years 2012-2016 to average 35 mpg, more conventional cars now reach 40 miles per gallon,
making the extra several thousand dollars for a hybrid less appealing.

Sales of Nissan's Leaf electric car and the Chevy Volt plug-in are falling short of expectations (about 10,000 cars have sold) and many analysts don't expect the segment to grow much as long as gas
prices remain under $4 a gallon. Nissan, however, expects sales to grow as it begins manufacturing the car and battery in Tennessee and as the Leaf becomes available in more states.

Detroit Auto Show Underway

Despite these headwinds, to meet even more stringent fuel economy standards of 52 mpg for model years 2017-2025, auto manufacturers must keep rolling out hybrids and electrics, and many are on
display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which runs January 7-22.

Ford, which is taking orders for the electric Focus, is debuting the new Fusion, which comes in
all flavors: gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid.

Honda's 2013 Accord Sedan has a two-motor plug-in hybrid system that moves continuously through three modes: all-electric, gasoline-electric, and direct-drive. Also on display are the first two hybrids under its Acura brand, the ILX and NSX.

Toyota is unveiling its smaller version of the Prius, Prius C, and has another plug-in hybrid concept on display, NS4, which should go on sale in 2015. Lexus, its premium brand, unveiled a hybrid concept sports coupe.

Volkswagen has a hybrid Jetta, and BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo all have hybrids, electrics
and plug-ins on display. 

GM's Code 130R reflects what we'll see in many new cars: stop/start technology that shuts off the engine at stops and recaptures braking energy to increase mileage.

AMP Electric Vehicles  (OTCQB: AMPD), which specializes in truck conversions, is taking orders for its electric AMP Jeep Grand Cherokee, for deliveries that begin in the fall. Production of the vehicles will take place in Ohio.

Department of Energy Secretary, Steven Chu,  addressed the Detroit Economic Club on January
11 to highlight support for U.S. auto industry innovation and the DOE released this video, "Energy 101: Electric Vehicles", which showcases their benefits.


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Reader Comments (2)


Date Posted:
02/09/12 07:57 PM

The EV cars are still pretty expensive. I heard that getting a charging station installed in your home is $3,000 plus, and it has to be installed indoors in a garage.

Rona Fried

Date Posted:
02/10/12 01:35 PM

I was surprised to hear on the news recently that the average car that people buy in the US costs $30,000 - that's more than the Nissan Leaf after the $7500 federal rebate,not counting state rebates. Add in the fact that you no longer use gasoline and you'll be saving lots of money. The car can be charged in a regular outlet but it charges faster with an advanced outlet which costs $1500-2000.

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