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Cost, charging infrastructure and battery concerns are all reasons for the slowed adoption

Electric vehicles (EVs) are not taking off quite as expected, and if sales numbers don't start turning around, this could spell long-term trouble for the industry, according to a new report from The Detroit News.

Back in 2009, the Obama administration awarded $2.4 billion in stimulus grants for EVs and advanced batteries. The investment seemed promising, since gas costs continued climbing. Who wouldn't want an EV in the days of paying $5 per gallon?

The answer is, apparently, most people. Pushing EV adoption has been difficult for a few reasons, including cost (despite huge federal tax credits and incentives, EVs are more expensive than gas vehicles), slow deployment of charging infrastructure and battery worries.

Right now, the federal tax credit is $7,500 per EV in the U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed upping this figure to $10,000 in order to make EVs more affordable. He also proposed a $1 billion budget for speeding up EV deployment and charging infrastructure in 15 communities.

Despite these efforts, and the fact that EVs can lessen the U.S.' dependence on foreign oil and reduce global warming, there was one issue that likely scared many customers off: lithium ion battery problems.

One such instance was the Chevrolet Volt's battery fire in May 2011, where a Chevrolet Volt underwent a series of tests at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) facility in Wisconsin. Three weeks after a side-impact crash test on May 12, the Volt caught fire while parked in the testing center.

Fisker Automotive has recalled its EV batteries for the Karma due to recent troubles, and the Nissan Leaf recently experienced some issues with the Arizona heat.

2012 Chevrolet Volt plug-in and 2012 Nissan Leaf sales have been all over the map over the past year. In 2011, 7,671 Volts were sold while 9,674 Leafs were sold. From January to September 2012, Leaf sales dropped to 5,212 while Volt sales jumped to 16,348.

According to The Detroit News, this is because the Volt has an auxiliary gas engine that kicks in when the battery is drained. To some degree, it still relies on gas, and the U.S. just isn't ready to take gas completely out of the equation yet.

Nissan hoped to sell 20,000 Leafs this year, but clearly, that is unlikely to happen.

A recent hit to the EV industry was A123 Systems' bankruptcy filing earlier this week. A123 made EV batteries and developed advanced battery technology.

There are some bright sides to the EV industry, though. Ford just added 60 new EV engineers and doubled in-house battery testing, and Toyota is talking plans for new EVs and hybrids.

The adoption of EVs may just take some time, and could likely get a boost in the coming years as the CAFE standards for gas-powered vehicles continues to increase. The Obama administration just recently finalized the 54.5 MPG CAFE standards for 2017-2025 model years.

Source: The Detroit News

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By Dr of crap on 10/19/2012 8:42:57 AM , Rating: 2
Well nice thinking, but you're not from the US.

First we want everthing bigger, including our vehicles. That's why the pickups and SUVs were such a big hit.

Second we can't get the Twizy or the VW L1 or XL1 whatever those are. And since they are most likely very small, it won't sell here. Most here would not even consider the smaller Fiesta's or Yaris's or fill in any small car here. With the thinking, if I get in a accident with a semi in THAT thing I'm dead.

I agree for the commuting car a 2 seater with a high mpg would be fine and a bigger car for the family would fill out nicely. Problem = both parents work. So one is driving the SUV and the other is driving the 2 seater. And if the 2 seater driver has to pickup the kids from daycare - oops they don't both fit in the car.

You paint a wonderful picture of what might work, but in the real world it doesn't work.

And the studies that most drive less then 20 miles a day to work - I don't agree with those numbers at all. I drive 60 miles round trip. AND with ALL those cars on the road with me, I'd be guessing most commutes are 40 miles and longer in the bigger cities. If you take the ENTIRE county then the number becomes smaller. BUT in the bigger cities, bigger commutes.

Your ideas won't work in the US, sorry. Nice thought though.

By othercents on 10/19/2012 8:50:03 AM , Rating: 2
Most here would not even FIT INTO the smaller Fiesta's or Yaris's or fill in any small car here.

I fixed it for you...

By rdhood on 10/22/2012 4:45:06 PM , Rating: 2
Most here would not even FIT INTO the smaller Fiesta's or Yaris's or fill in any small car here.

True, but not in the way that you imply. At over 6' tall, I have never even considered a Fiesta or Yaris. There isn't enough leg room for me to fit comfortably in most subcompacts... especially Toyota. OTOH, Honda and Nissan seems to be able to create enough leg room in their vehicles for a 6'+ driver.

By jimbojimbo on 10/19/2012 10:26:05 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that most people drive 20 miles to work and just because you drive 60 doesn't mean it's false. Hell, most people I know drive 0 miles to work or up to 5 miles with a train ride. I think that more than averages out your 60 down to 20.

By Dr of crap on 10/19/2012 10:37:15 AM , Rating: 2
Like I said if you go to the bigger cities the communte rises. Small towns don't have big commutes, and New Yokers use trains.

My observations here is that the roads are full of cars for 3 hours morning and night, and if most only drive 10 miles then why is the sprawl so wide here? It's spread is 100 miles from east to west? Yep the exburbs last for at least that far.

Yep some drive a little, BUT a lot drive more than 20 miles one way!
By MY observation only.
I didn't state it as fact.

By jimbojimbo on 10/19/2012 10:53:01 AM , Rating: 2
Chicago isn't a big city?

By semiconshawn on 10/19/2012 11:11:58 AM , Rating: 2
Well big only if you count people and sq. miles.

By Nutzo on 10/19/2012 11:30:49 AM , Rating: 3
I only drive 6 miles to work, all city driving, long stop lights etc. So, you'd think that a hybrid or electric car would be the perfect choice, however it isn't.

Since I only drive around 5,000 mile/year, even at $4.50/gal, there isn't enough savings to justify spending and extra $3,000 on a hybrid over a 4cyl car. Add in the extra insurance cost of a hybrid and my break even point is 9 years.

A fully electric car wouldn't work either as a few times a year I need to drive over 100 miles.

By fleabag on 10/21/2012 9:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
Not today they wouldn't work for you. Primary reason to want an electric car if you drive as infrequently as you do is that a car driven that infrequently is going to have a lot more mechanical problems than one that is driven very frequently for more miles. Maintenance costs will be the same for your vehicle whether driven 3K miles vs 12K miles because a lot of maintenance is based on time and not miles. Also cars driven for short distances get lots of carbon buildup and just are more of a headache 10 years down the road than those driven 50 miles per day.

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