We all know what happened. By 1920, the first EV era was mostly over. So will it be déjà vu all over again? Paradoxically, the main adoption impediment isn't EV sticker prices, daunting though they are. It's the lack of recharging infrastructure.
The US government is subsidizing the construction of charging stations. Austin, Texas, already has more than 100 stations in place, but, quite frankly, the buildout rate is nowhere near rapid enough to turn EVs into no-muss, no-fuss mainstream driving machines.
There's also a technology wild card. EV power packs haven't kept up with Moore's Law, and it's not clear if they will ever get significantly beyond the 200Wh/kg energy densities of today's top Lithium-ion batteries. We also don't know how quickly the packs will dip below their not atypical $10,000-plus replacement costs, nor do we know how this will affect vendor warranty costs or used-car resale values.
I've always believed fuel-cell vehicles are a more viable technology than EVs, in the same way that Sony Beta was a better videotape format than VHS. In the latter case, marketplace machinations outflanked engineers' data-driven assessments. This will likely be the case with EVs, in which so many people have so much invested that pulling the plug now would unleash a far worse scenario than fixing the problems.
For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller.
Very true, let the locals figure out how EVs would work best in their environment. Here in the suburbs of Chicago, a 45 minute commute is typical, although the actual traveled distance is only 15 miles. An EV would work quite well out here even if it had a 100 mile range. If you lived in Montana, that 100 mile range might be cutting things a little close.
@Alex, I believe the answer to your question is in your article here: "The US government is subsidizing the construction of charging stations. Austin, Texas, already has more than 100 stations in place, but, quite frankly, the buildout rate is nowhere near rapid enough to turn EVs into no-muss, no-fuss mainstream driving machines."
The role of the federal US government should be to set standards on things like charging rate, voltage, and environmental disposal rules, not to build charging stations in each neighborhood. If the Feds want to push a particular technology, offer tax incentives to local governments, not the end consumer. Allow the locals to figure out how EVs would work best in their own environment. If it will happen, it will happen.
Just ask Spencer Silver of 3M who discovered an ultra-low tack adhesive in 1968. It wasn't until he met up with Art Fry at 3M in 1974 that they convinced 3M to market Post-It Notes in 1980. Having the US Government issue coupons to consumers in the early 1960's would have done little to spur innovation in the area of slightly-sticky paper...
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