Electric Car Promise “Undoable”

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Safety regulators will start a formal investigation of the fire risk in Volts after the above-mentioned tests that resulted in one battery pack igniting and one smoking and sending off sparks, a Detroit Free Press story Nov.26 reported. A test was conducted in May in Wisconsin. The Volt’s batteries, in that incident caught fire three weeks after the crash test.

NHTSA said it was not aware of any roadway crashes that have resulted in battery fires in Chevy Volts or other vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries. Chevrolet dealers have sold about 6,000 Volts, said a GM spokesman. All Volts, he said, are equipped with an emergency safety notification system. Nissan Motors says it was not aware of any fires in its electric car, the Leaf.

The Department of Energy and others figure that “battery costs need to come down to $350 per kilowatt-hour to make electric vehicles competitive in the market place, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

Scientific American in February wrote: “It is difficult to say how likely such an arbitrary goal [Obama’s forecast of one million cars on our roadways by 2015] might be….”

Of course, the Obama administration realizes that attaining such a goal will be impossible without help from the federal government. To that end, the article mentions the $7,500 tax credits, the $2.4 billion subsidy for high-powered batteries for the electric vehicles, $300 million in “clean city” grants, $115 million for installation of electric charging infrastructure in key metropolitan areas and the $25 billion being doled out to U.S. car companies to retool.

The Electrification Coalition, an organization of hopeful pro-EV leaders from companies including Nissan, Federal Express, Coda Automotive and Coulomb Technologies, and others predicted that as many as 14 million EVs could be on American roads by 2020 if lawmakers create “electrification ecosystems” in major U.S. cities simultaneously. Extremely unlikely.

Even with all the federal funding, “a million EVs on the road by 2015 may still be just a pipe dream,” said James Sweeney of Stanford University’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center. He calls the plan “very aggressive.” He explains that it took over a decade for hybrids—which “did not require any difference in infrastructure and had as great a range as conventional vehicles– neither of which is likely to be the case with electric vehicles”—to capture three percent of the U.S. passenger car and light truck market. EVs would have to achieve the same market share in just four years if Obama’s goal is to be realized.

In January, a panel of industry experts, brought together by Indiana University, issued a 78-page report that said the one million goal was not doable. It based it’s conclusion on production volumes and its analysis of consumer demand.

The Department of Energy (DOE), political to the core, shot back in an 11-page report saying based on “conservative” estimates of production plans, a total of 1.22 million plug-in vehicles could be built and sold by the end of 2015.

Astonishingly, but unsurprisingly, the DOE gave its source not from car makers but from media reports of plans, with two thirds of the 1.22 million coming from Government Motors’ hybrid Volt.

Dream on, DOE.

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  • Thomas Smith

    I started to take offense to this articles huge misrepresentation of facts. I then read several other "articles" by this author. I no longer take offense, as obviously Tait Trussell has a mental condition that interferes with his logical reasoning. I wish him the best for his recovery.

    • cic100

      Absolutely agree.

  • UCSPanther

    Why are people wasting their time with electric cars?

    • cic100

      Because in many situations they are a better car. Which one did you go test drive?

  • Peter

    "Despite Obama’s romanticized view of technology, electric cars appeal to a relatively tiny demographic group of “only young, very high income individuals”—those making $150,000 to $200,000 a year—who would be interested in buying an electric car."

    Where does this information come from? This writer is a dinosaur writing to protect the interests of failing Detroit car companies. His grandfather may have written an article article saying that the T Model Ford would never replace a horse.

    When Chinese cars enter this market we had better be doing something new.

  • Peter

    The Detroit gang of three are hiring out of work writers to write negative articles about electric cars. Why? No exhausts, no radiator hoses, no oil changes, no fan belts.

  • Luddetrutt

    Author didn’t mention that the fire occurred a week after the crash test. That’s when you realize this is anti EV propaganda and should stop reading an asinine article like this one.

    • cic100

      Agreed…actually it was 3 weeks.

  • nAmYzArC

    And gasoline doesn't catch fire????

    • cic100

      Yep, 250000 garage fires a year caused by lots of things…just put a Volt in your garage and presto chango that's what started the fire! Anyone ever count the number of policeman killed by fires in Crown Vics?

  • Guest

    I wonder how much money he got from the oil companies to write this stuff!

    • cic100

      Good question…

  • Robert

    One Volt catches fire after a specific set of very suspicious circumstances and after proper procedure was not observed. Now idiots are crowing about the demise of the electric car. Meanwhile, 250,000 gasoline powered cars catch fire every year in this country causing hundreds of deaths. Which car is dangerous? Which car is a dinosaur?

    Not to mention the fact that oil is depleting and getting more expensive. Not to mention the fact that energy security is a huge problem for this country. Not to mention the fact that climate change is killing people now…

    The article writer is a Luddite, a fool and an idiot. I'm keeping my Volt. And I'm never going back to a full gas vehicle. Not on your life.

  • ChaosFreak

    Putting aside the issue of the fires, here's the real danger of Trussel's thinking: http://www.zapworld.com/zap-alias-electric-car
    The Chinese are poised to destroy Detroit with a brand-new manufacturing base for electric vehicles, unencumbered by sunk cost in legacy equipment and supported by Chinese government subsidies and cheap Chinese labor.
    Anyone who thinks China only makes cheap toys, think again.

  • http://www.bilprovning.se/ gasolkontroll

    President Obama approach is appreciative indeed. Electric car is very Eco-friendly and energy efficient as well. By 2015 hopefully more than million users will inspired to drive electric cars. Thanks.

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  • Diaz

    Chevy Volt is an electric vehicle which is enthralled by President Obama, considered as a hot car and the batteries are responsible for catching fires. It is the good job of Government that takes valid and sincerer steps to stop this type of fire catching and approve it after its revolution.
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