Electric Vehicles Coming, Ready or Not

electric vehiclesToday, if you go into the car dealership canyon of most major cities looking for a highway-worthy electric vehicle, there are two choices among the major car makers -- the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

But by mid 2012, the choices will be far greater. Toyota will have three plug-in vehicles -- the RAV4 Electric Vehicle, the Prius Plug-in extended-range electric and a Lexus EV. Ford will have electric versions of the Transit Connectutility van and Ford Focus. General Motors, which is marketing the Chevy Volt extended-range electric sedan, is planning on offering at least one other by 2012. Mitsubishi will begin selling the i-MiEV electric "city car" by the end of 2011.Then there are the niche companies selling electrics. Telsa Motors is already selling its $100,000 plus electric roadster. Fisker Automotive is selling the $88,000 (base price) Karma. Coda Automotive is readying a $38,000 electric sedan for sale in 2011. Norwegian Company THINK will begin selling a small "micro" city car in the U.S. in early 2011.

All of these cars coming on the scene are meant to help companies meet toughening government regulations that require automakers to increase their Corporate Average Fuel Economy and accumulate zero-emission-vehicle credits. They are also aimed at consumers anxious to live their "green" inclinations day to day.

But most consumers are slow, so far, to embrace electric vehicles. Fewer than 7% of Americans say they would even consider buying a plug-in car, according to a recent survey conducted by the automotive Website Kelley Blue Book.

"It will absolutely take years and years for a critical mass of American gasoline-loving car buyers to make electric vehicles a significant factor in reducing oil consumption," says Los Angeles-based auto industry consultant Dennis Keene. "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't push the technology every which way, because only by the cars becoming more widely available and purchased will people become comfortable with the technology."
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