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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 mandoman on 10/19/2012 8:59:55 AM , Rating: 2
What has happened to us as citizens of the USA?? We used to absolutely crave anything that was new, adventurous, different and high tech. EVs are at their beginning but not exactly bleeding edge tech y'all. Let's "get with the program"

I can't wait to get hold of an EV! I'd even go for a extended range hybrid like the Volt or a plug in hybrid like the "available in California only" plug-in Prius.

Since I got my 2010 Prius I've cut my gasoline bills by in excess of 50% and MAN does that feel good!!! As gas moves inevitably towards $5/gal it's going to feel even better.

Sure hope Mercedes brings it's diesel hybrid in the US along with it's 50+mpg.

Come on y'all --- these are exciting times in the car world.

RE: EV's
By ksherman on 10/19/2012 9:38:25 AM , Rating: 2
I agree! I'd love to be able to jump on a hybrid/EV or TDI for my commute.

Fortunately, where I work they have (only two) charging stations for EVs. I'd love to get a Volt, but part of the problem is that I can't charge at home, over night. I live in a townhome with no garage and no way to charge without a long a** cable. So the only place I'm able to charge is actually at work. That might work. But the other side is that a Volt costs $35-40k, that's a lot for me. Now I could save nearly $300 a month on gas, so there is that :)

RE: EV's
By Spuke on 10/19/2012 10:01:50 AM , Rating: 2
What has happened to us as citizens of the USA?? We used to absolutely crave anything that was new, adventurous, different and high tech. EVs are at their beginning but not exactly bleeding edge tech y'all. Let's "get with the program"
I'm happy with OUR collective choice. That tells me we still have some sense in our heads. This may be hard for you to understand but no one in the US is interested in a $30-$40k economy car. That's never been a hit sell and it never will be.

RE: EV's
By semiconshawn on 10/19/2012 11:27:07 AM , Rating: 2
We crave things that are new adventurous and high tech that dont suck. Not just any crap that comes along. If you think low horsepower ugly econobox cars are exciting times in the car world.....we differ on what exciting would mean.

RE: EV's
By geddarkstorm on 10/19/2012 12:57:53 PM , Rating: 2
You forget that us citizens of the USA are also generally smart enough to tell when something is a bad deal -- and especially when something is ridiculously stupid deal.


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