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The numbers of EV options will more than double with the release of the 2013 Ford Focus Electric (pictured), the 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In, and the 2013 Tesla Model S.  (Source: Treehugger)

Charging stations, like ECOtality's BLINK charger, are being deployed across America as well.  (Source: Tech Fever)

History cautions us that the EV movement may not be out of the woods yet -- the most iconic EV of the 1990s, GM's EV1 quickly ended up crushed in the scrap heap (pictured). This time around things may work out differently, though.  (Source: Treehugger)
EV movement has stalled several times, historically, industry hopes to avoid another letdown

Researchers and market advocates in a recent Detroit News interview argue that the electric vehicle movement is reaching the point where it will become an unstoppable force on the market before.  Describes, Genevieve Cullen, the vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, an advocacy group for electric cars, "We think that increasing electric is inevitable. The speed is variable."

I. The EV Movement has Faded Before -- Will History Repeat Itself?

The question of whether the electrification movement will stick this time around is a compelling one. 

In the early 1900s electric vehicles were extremely popular, outselling gas vehicles in some areas until the advent of mass production.  With the arrival of modern engine designs, electric vehicles quickly faded from the mind of the auto industry and the public.

In the 1960s interest in electric cars once again rose, with concepts like the 1967 Comuta from Ford Motor Company (F).  These efforts failed to gain traction, though.  In the 1990s there was yet another electric revivalist movement with General Motors Company's (GM) EV1.  And yet again EVs were met with apathy and a hasty demise.

Today EVs are once more on the market, with the 2012 Chevy Volt from GM (a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle; PHEV) and 2012 Nissan (NSANF) LEAF EV (a battery-electric vehicle; BEV).  However, the sales aren't looking great, largely due to the manufacturers' inability to put out significant volume to the public.

But many are convinced that this time EVs may hang in there.  Oil is off highs of $147 USD/barrel reached in July 2008.  But it's still relatively high, hovering at around $100 USD/barrel.

II.  Increasing Infrastructure

They key to the survival of the EV movement arguably lays in the significant uptake in EV infrastructure.  Thanks in part to a $2.4B USD government investment program in the battery industry, six major battery plants are open or are near opening.  And Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), Ford, and Toyota Motor Company (TM) will look to jump into the mass market next year with new electric vehicles.  Ford is planning to release the 2013 Focus Electric and Toyota plans to release a 2013 Prius Plug-In.  Tesla meanwhile is planning to launch its first mass-market EV, the 2013 Model S.

The real key to increasing promise for the mass market is dropping batter prices and increased battery production.  Analysts estimate that in 2011 50,000 EV batteries will be produced and in only three years -- by 2014 -- that number will rise to 500,000 batteries a year.

Meanwhile costs are dropping.  Eric Isaacs, the director of the Argonne National Laboratory -- a government research institution located outside of Chicago, Illinois -- states, "The question is: Can these guys make a battery that is five times cheaper? I think yes. I think we can do it."

One major obstacle to the fledgling movement is the availability of charging stations.  EVs, like gas vehicles need to be "fueled up".  Standard chargers can take hours to completely charge a vehicle.  A dedicated high-voltage charging station can mostly charge a vehicle within a half or so.

The need for chargers is more critical when you consider that the "tank" on EVs (battery) only holds one or two days worth of "fuel" (charge) for the average commuter.

Here, again, the government is looking to help spur the market by investing $400M USD to deploy chargers to public locations.  

Two of the leading firms include SemaConnect and ECOtality Inc. (ECTY).  SemaConnect was installing chargers in Maryland this week.  Meanwhile ECOtality in recent weeks has installed its BLINK charging stations in California, Washington state, Oregon and Arizona.

III.  The EV Outlook

There are telltale signs that the new EV trend may be a bit different.  Anecdotal examples can be found in the retail and fleet markets.  

Fleet giant Hertz is offering rentable EVs in New York City and will soon be offering them in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, Calif.

States Company spokeswoman Paula Rivera, "Currently, we have a few dozen vehicles. By the end of the year we anticipate having hundreds of them available. We do view this as the future of transportation, and see adoption coming not only from having the cars available, but the ecosystem to charge them. ... As the ecosystem builds out, our fleet will increase."

Similarly, electronics retail giant Best Buy says it is considering selling recharging stations and is training its "Geek Squad" service team members to ready them for the possibility.  Chad Bell, the senior director of Best Buy's New Business Solutions Group states, "We dedicated a significant amount of resources to help this technology come to market. We think these (home charging-stations) will be purchased and sold in the future similar to how electronics are sold today."

Some analysts are more pessimistic about the movement.  Still it's hard to argue that the industry isn't showing an awful lot of interest in it, this time around.

To borrow a chemistry analogy, it appears that EVs are currently are entering a transition state.  They aren't over the energy barrier (sales hump) yet, but they may soon get there.  If they can keep up their momentum, perhaps the EV movement can finally survive and thrive.



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RE: EV != Electric
By AssBall on 4/12/2011 1:30:30 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Tell your stupid BS to Tesla or Prius or Leaf manufacturers who ALREADY made wagons of money, basically selling to like 0.0001% of the global auto market.


Wrong. Tesla is still in the red (all they have is investor equity). Furthermore the Model S won't go on sale until next summer.
The leaf was predicted (by Renault/Nissan CEO) to sell 20,000 units in the US this year. So far they are up to a couple hundred... They might want to take a zero off their silly estimate.
The Hybrids are the only one's making money, and it is more than your pulled out of your ass 1 millionth of global auto sales. Try again with some facts next time.

quote:
Tell your stupid BS to the nuclear power station designers who'll laugh hard at your stupidity.


Right now EV is worse than gas for the environment, especially in the US, because we don't have and will not have new fission plants in the US for decades. It is still cost effective to use gas as opposed to running coal and gas plants for electricity. And Fusion, Pirks, really? Even if ITER and DEMO work out perfectly and don't get delayed to death, fusion plants are at least a century off and will have ludicrous startup costs.

quote:
Noone cares about your stupidity since people can recharge overnight when electricity rates are the lowest


Except people who occasionally drive at night, or for people who occasionally drive more than 2 hours in a day, or the entire US shipping industry.

quote:
Stupid people like you don't own high performance Bugattis, so you're not the one to talk about it. Besides with your stupid 50-70 mph speed limits everywhere what you need your Bugatti for?


Since you don't even present an argument, let alone an iota of logic with this gibberish, I'll leave it alone.

quote:
This goes down with time and economies of scale.


Well please call me up in 30 years when it goes down enough to make electric vehicles worth a god-damn. 'Till then I'll wait before I buy your expensive over-hyped subsidized EV sh!t-box.


RE: EV != Electric
By Pirks on 4/12/11, Rating: 0
RE: EV != Electric
By AssBall on 4/12/2011 3:33:50 PM , Rating: 2
The US consumes about a quarter of the world's electricity, even with 1/20th of the worlds population, and yet suddenly you "don't give a damn". Sounds about right for your fact ignoring self righteous socialist drivel.

Some people get excited about having nice things. You with your cheap shitty car and warped world view are not among them. I don't care if it is a "stupid waste of money" Apple Mac or a "stupid waste of money" Mustang Cobra, a "stupid waste of money" H&K SL-8, a "stupid waste of money" catamaran, or a stupid waste of money trip to Disney World. Everyone likes spending the money they work for on things they like.

The difference is, most people defend and support everyone else's freedom to waste their time and money as they see fit to.

But go ahead and live in your own little private world where everyone that doesn't agree with your obvious moral superiority and miraculous social ideology is just "a stupid idiot who needs to get out of their basement".


RE: EV != Electric
By Pirks on 4/12/2011 4:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The US consumes about a quarter of the world's electricity
Well since the US was so "wise" to support all this huge consumption with coal and sh1t instead of building clean nuclear plants - well good for ya guys, keep breathing your nice coaly pollution sh1t, again I don't care how much gigawatts you consume and how much of your dirty coal sh1t you burn instead of producing those gigawatts in clean nuclear plants. Stupid people like you deserve what you got, so good luck inhaling you coal sh1t. Smarter countries will build dozens of powerful nuclear reactors while you'll keep inhaling your econut sh1t.
quote:
Some people get excited about having nice things
Electrics are nice things, they are marvel of tech. The gas cars are old, boring and polluting. Wasting money on an expensive gas car is like wasting money on an expensive vacuum tube computer, while you can invest money in the no less expensive silicon chip computer. I understand those vacuum tubes look nice and glow nice and you may consider this museum tech "nice" with all your Luddite buddies for all ya want but still people who invest in vacuum tubes these days are dumb, excuse me for being honest. But after all most people are dumb anyway so...
quote:
The difference is, most people defend and support everyone else's freedom to waste their time and money as they see fit to.
There's no difference, because I said "I don't care" multiple times above. You guys can burn oil, coal and gas for all you want, you are free to do that and I never claimed otherwise. Indeed, I'm free to buy electric and pollute less, you are free to burn stuff and pollute more, here I agree with ya.


RE: EV != Electric
By AssBall on 4/12/2011 6:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well since the US was so "wise" to support all this huge consumption with coal and sh1t instead of building clean nuclear plants - well good for ya guys, keep breathing your nice coaly pollution sh1t, again I don't care how much gigawatts you consume and how much of your dirty coal sh1t you burn instead of producing those gigawatts in clean nuclear plants. Stupid people like you deserve what you got, so good luck inhaling you coal sh1t. Smarter countries will build dozens of powerful nuclear reactors while you'll keep inhaling your econut sh1t.


How dense are you? You think Greece and Portugal going bankrupt is a waste of funds? Lets see how long you can drive your echo if the US goes bankrupt, considering we have financial interest supporting every modern country's infrastructure in the world.

You have a seriously warped view of things. I live in the Highest coal producing state in the USA and I have fresher air than you. Look up WYOMING some time when you aren't jerking off to your emo-lib propaganda and Al Gore porn.

That's right butt-munch we produce almost as much coal per year in my state with half a million people as the entire European Union does

Guess what else, its dirt cheap to make, produces thousands of great paying jobs, and our air is crystal clear and environment virtually pristine here.

Keep reading and believing your pseudo scare stories in the tabloid though, if it makes you feel happy.


RE: EV != Electric
By Pirks on 4/13/2011 10:17:59 AM , Rating: 2
Whatever, burn all your coal gas and oil buddy, I don't give a fk about your econut lunacy


RE: EV != Electric
By AssBall on 4/12/2011 6:34:16 PM , Rating: 1
You point out China as an example of a "healthy, modern, science friendly, progressive" country.

Okay....mmmmmaybe if you compare it to Laos, PRK, or Zimbabwe.

Get a clue, Pirks, you don't know dick about environmental, political, socio-cultural, or economic geography. You should definitely run for political office.


RE: EV != Electric
By Pirks on 4/13/2011 9:35:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You point out China as an example of a "healthy, modern, science friendly, progressive" country
Say this is not so given that the US burns dirty coal and is afraid of nuclear because econuts rule the country while China is building nuclear reactors in droves


RE: EV != Electric
By sorry dog on 4/13/2011 9:34:54 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Who cares about US that's driven by econuts and religious right these days? I was talking about more progressive, modern, healthy and nuclear/science friendly countries like China or France. Americans can keep drowning in filthy gas/coal/oil emissions for all I care. Like I give a damn.


Dude, have you been to China?

I'm guessing not since you don't have to be there very long to realize that their air quality sucks and most of the place is a mess. The majority of cars on their roads are several generations behind ours in terms of pollution.

BTW - do you live in the U.S.? If so, why do you talk so poorly of your home? I mean if France is so great I'm sure an intelligent person such as yourself can figure out a way to relocate there??


RE: EV != Electric
By Pirks on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: EV != Electric
By Skywalker123 on 4/14/2011 3:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
"Because I am an idiot? ;) But what if I'm not? "

Trust me, you are an idiot.


RE: EV != Electric
By Pirks on 4/14/2011 4:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why would I trust a moron like you?


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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