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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 othercents on 10/19/2012 8:47:56 AM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting for another Volt like vehicle that will fit my family of 5. The Volt is only a 4 seater, but does have the benefit of doing EV only for my commutes.

Right now I own one vehicle for my family, but if I was thinking about a second vehicle I would be looking closer at EVs for just a commuter car. Too bad at this point there is nothing priced right. I think if they brought the Renault to the US we might see a significant increase in EV sales. What two car family wouldn't buy a $9,000 EV with a $7,500 credit?

By Dr of crap on 10/19/2012 8:59:17 AM , Rating: 2

By Wy White Wolf on 10/19/2012 9:02:26 AM , Rating: 2

By othercents on 10/19/2012 9:22:58 AM , Rating: 2
Wait a sec.. I just read some more Twizy news.

1) Twizy owners will be able to lease a battery for 45 Euros ($63) a month, with an annual cap of about 4,700 miles.
2) Twizy is legally classified in Europe as a heavy quadricycle which is not eligible for tax credit.

Those two things would take the Twizy off of the would buy list into the pile of rubbish the rest of the EVs went to.

By semiconshawn on 10/19/2012 11:54:36 AM , Rating: 2

By bebimbap on 10/19/2012 3:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
"What two car family wouldn't buy a $9,000 EV with a $7,500 credit?"
NONE or very few

you only get the FULL $7500 tax credit IF you owe that much in taxes after deductions. Otherwise you'll probably only get 1-3k of that back. so think again about the tax credit, unless you earn at least $90-130k/year before taxes. If you are making 6 figures I highly doubt you'd buy a $9k car even with a $7.5k "credit"

And a 2nd car means you have 2 cars depreciating on your driveway instead of one. So all that gas money you save is probably going down the drain as depreciation/maintenance money anyway.

so for most people, buying a "cheap EV" as your 2nd vehicle you'll be MORE out of pocket than if you drove your other car more. even if you drove $4/gal for 100k miles @ 20 mpg the gas will only cost you about $20,000. of course you'll get better mileage than that. So if you are buying another car, and it costs more than $20,000 - ($400000/new car mpg) its probably not worth it. even at 100 mpg your new car would have to cost less than $16k for it to be worth it. or less than $12k at 50mpg and remember that newer car's insurance is usually more than an older car. So if you are trying to "save" money a new car is not the way to go. and EV's are not less than $20k anyway. you could add the $7500 tax credit but of course IF you qualify for the entire credit...

Now if you were to buy a 130mpg scooter, that costs only $1-3k then you have my blessings, as you'll truly save some out of pocket money in the long run

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