Electric cars keep humming along, despite automaker turmoil

Now might seems like an odd time for optimism from makers of electric cars. After all, falling sales of gasoline-powered autos are crippling established giants like General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. And the price of crude oil, already down nearly $100 from its peak last summer, is falling again over concerns that a lengthy recession could depress demand for some time.

Still, some companies specializing in electric-powered cars say they're charging ahead. Take Detroit Electric. The company, a joint venture between California-based ZAP (ZAAP) and China Youngman Automotive Group, says it will start selling electric cars in the United States next year for $23,000 and up.