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Proponents Pitch Plugin Power – But at What Cost?

Tax incentives along likely to reach $7.5 billion over 7 years.

by on Sep.24, 2012

Chevrolet Volt owners plug-in their vehicles Saturday at Serra Chevrolet in Southfield, Mich. Chevrolet Volt owners celebrated National Plug In Day at nine Chevy dealerships across the country to highlight the environmental, economic and other benefits of plugin electric vehicles. (Photo by Rob Widdis)

A small but enthusiastic group of advocates marked national “Plug In Day,” over the weekend, hoping to draw more attention to fuel-efficient – if slow-selling – battery-based vehicles as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

But a new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raises questions about the cost of plugin power, contending that the nation is spending billions to subsidize sales of both plugin hybrids and even more advanced battery-electric vehicles.

Advocacy group Plug In America sponsored events in 60 cities from coast to coast on Sunday. In El Segundo, a Los Angeles suburb next to the city’s international airport, those interested in battery car technology were given the chance to take a test drive in a number of different electric vehicles at the Automobile Driving Museum. In New York City, battery-powered Coca-Cola and Fed Ex trucks were on display amidst the bright lights of Times Square.

Electrifying!

Other cities marked the occasion with parades, celebrations marking the opening of new battery-car charging stations and “tailpipe-free” tailgate parties.

The fact that about 50,000 battery-based vehicles have been sold in the U.S. over the last two years should serve as “proof positive that Americans are ready to move beyond oil,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said. “The solution for ending high gas prices, rising oceans and Big Oil’s choke hold on our economy and democracy is using less gas. And we’re doing it. Today almost every automaker offers a car that runs on little or no oil, and Plug In Day 2012 is only the beginning of a new era of oil-free driving.”

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EVs Unplugged?

Is the battery car a failure – or will the real test come in 2012?

by on Jan.03, 2012

Tesla's Model S will test market interest in battery-electric vehicles when it debuts later this year.

If the White House hopes to meet its ambitious goal of putting 1.5 million battery cars on the road by mid-decade it better hope that 2011 wasn’t a good indication of what Americans think of electric vehicles.

Add them all up, hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and they accounted for little more than 2% of the U.S. automotive market last year.  Remove conventional gas-electric models, such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion Hybrid, from the equation and more advanced battery vehicles generated barely 20,000 sales.

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“I’d say they failed,” proclaims Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting.

For his part, David Sullivan, of AutoPacific, Inc., isn’t quite ready to go that far, but he sees 2012 as the really critical year.  The limited demand for electric vehicles, so far, has largely been driven by the early adopters, contends Sullivan.  “Now we’ll see if there’s broader consumer demand.”

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