A boom in electric car models has been predicted for years, yet somehow the brakes keep getting put on the move toward non-gas guzzlers. Between the faltering economy and stable fuel prices, sales of hybrids have been flat in the past couple of years, accounting for just 2.5 percent of the new car market.
The all-electric Tesla is currently on the road with a sale price of $109,000. But now some affordable models are making it to showrooms, with many more expected. This year the electric Nissan LEAF and the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt are making electric cars a possibility for those who don’t care to drop 100 grand on a mere car.
According to Hybridcars.com, industry analyst Alan Baum predicts that there will be 108 electric-drive vehicles by model year 2015, including more than 50 conventional hybrids, more than 30 pure electric cars, nearly 20 plug-in hybrids, and a handful of fuel cell vehicles.
Government regulation could support this prediction. The Obama administration has been pressuring the EPA to adopt stricter fuel efficiency standards, and a technical analysis projects that fuel standards could reach between 47 and 62 mpg requirement by 2025, making fuel-efficient cars more attractive. In addition, federal and some state governments are offering incentives to consumers, including a $7,500 federal tax rebate for purchase of electric and some hybrid cars.
But electric vehicles have a long way to go. The recent Tesla recall — due to a faulty cable — affected just 439 cars. And the total market share for hybrids and EV cars, even if Baum’s prediction comes true, would hover at four or five percent of new cars in the U.S. by 2015.
Electric, hybrid and other eco-car fans will gather on Saturday, October 9 for Green Drive Expo-Bay Area, a consumer car show focused on high tech, more eco-friendly vehicles. Keynote speaker is Electric Vehicle guru Chelsea Sexton, featured in the 2006 documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car:
Electric cars don’t have tailpipe emissions, but they still take energy to run, manufacture, and recycle at end of life, so eco-friendly is a relative term. Some Green Drive Expo attendees will be looking for an affordable family car, some will be scoping for the latest, coolest gadget, and some tinkerers will attend to learn how to convert their gas guzzlers to run on biodiesel. Attendees will also hear from an eco-taxi owner and the bike coalition. No-emission, economical electric vehicles are becoming a reality; they are not the solution to our energy and environmental challenges, but may be one step down the right road.
Photo: Electric cars as they used to be. Public domain.