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Chu promises big battery price cuts, but doesn't say how

The Obama administration continues to push electric vehicles despite the fact that they have sold very poorly around the country. There are number of reasons why consumers haven't adopted electric vehicles in larger numbers, the biggest of which are the cost of the vehicles and range anxiety. The component that adds the most cost to EVs is undoubtedly the battery pack.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced that the federal government is working to dramatically reduce the cost of battery technology for electric vehicles. Cheaper batteries would mean that automakers could [ideally] sell their EVs and hybrid vehicles that utilize rechargeable battery packs at a lower price.

President Obama wants 1 million plug-in electric vehicles and hybrids on highways around the United States by 2015. Currently, the federal government offers a $7,500 tax credit for people who purchase electric vehicles and Obama has been pushing to increase the tax credit to $10,000.

"It's ambitious, but we'll see what happens," said Chu during a talk with reporters during the Washington Auto Show.

"For the engineers in the room or those who follow this, you might be saying to yourself, 'What are they smoking,'" Chu said about aggressive plans to cut the price of batteries. "We're not smoking anything…. They are ambitious goals but they are achievable goals."

The original report from Washington supporting the goal of 1 million plug-in vehicles on the roads by 2015 expected Ford to sell 20,000 Focus EVs in 2012. Ford sold fewer than 700 of the vehicles and has resorted to significant price cuts to spur demand. Chevrolet also sold only 24,000 Volts in 2012 while the report had predicted 120,000.

Source: Detroit News

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Volt is small
By gmyx on 2/1/2013 1:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
I had a chance to see the Volt over the weekend - it was on display at a local mall.

My first reaction was cool, the Volt. Then after looking at the cabin, I quickly realized that is seems way to small for a day to day car for a family. It's only use might be a single-user commuting vehicle.

It didn't even look that comfortable with the middle hump so high. And then I saw the price... no thanks.

RE: Volt is small
By grooves21 on 2/1/2013 1:30:04 PM , Rating: 2
Electric cars are several generations away from being viable.

Their small range and long charging times will keep most consumers from adopting them. I don't care if 95% of the time nearly all consumers stay within that range and aren't affected by it. If they travel great distances even ONCE per year it is unusable and unreasonable to expect people will buy them when they will have to have a second car (gasoline) available ... or worse be forced to rent for those times. This is an even bigger problem when you are paying a premium to drive an electric car, and it can't meet all of your needs.

Tesla has the right idea with their Supercharging stations, but even so 30min charging times on a long trip are a bit much.

It's the same reason Trucks are so popular. Most people don't regularly haul/tow things... but they need it for when they do and don't want to have multiple cars or rely on others when they do need it.

RE: Volt is small
By jimbojimbo on 2/1/2013 4:09:30 PM , Rating: 2
You do know that the Volt uses gasoline as well and has the same range as any gas powered car? Just making sure since your post could fall under a discussion about a Leaf but you're responding directly to a post about the Volt.

RE: Volt is small
By Mint on 2/1/2013 5:59:02 PM , Rating: 2
Pure EVs are primarily intended to be second cars. When you need to drive longer distance, you use your household's primary car.

But for everyone else, there's PHEV. The Volt's a bit expensive, but the C-Max Energi isn't. It works just like any other car when you exceed the electric range.

RE: Volt is small
By foxalopex on 2/4/2013 1:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the Volt and C-Max Energi isn't a good comparison. The Volt has a much larger battery and more powerful electric drive system making it a faster and a much longer range electric. where I live the rebate is based on the size of battery so price wise the Energi is only $2 grand or so cheaper which is a poor trade-off considering how much you lose. And the trade off for the 5th seat is a huge battery pack in the trunk which takes up cargo space and gives you a weaker center of gravity. (The volt pulls tight turns better.)

RE: Volt is small
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 2/1/2013 1:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
It's a pretty comfy ride and I'm a big guy (6'4" >300lbs), though the back seat is darned small and suitable really only for children or shorter adults. Back seats fold down for increased storage, which comes in handy.

I do wish higher-density battery techs (Envia, LiS, etc) get here sooner though. I'd like 50+ mile range in winter within the same battery weight and size budget in my next EREV (or better yet get a lighter genset and use that weight for more battery)..

RE: Volt is small
By dgingerich on 2/1/2013 2:33:41 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds a lot like my 2005 Monte Carlo: comfy up front but really small, near useless, back seats.

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