I only see two markets for pure EV's (PEV's): people who are in love with the concept and have money to burn, and city drivers where range isn't an issue.
But, here is a scenario where PEV's become viable (assuming tiny two seater EV's, with any viable battery chemistry):
Cities can prohibit ICE vehicles in the city proper (think London that already prohibits all but cabs in the daytime). Busses and taxi's are perfect electric candidates since they can use infrastructure to change out battery packs instead of charging them on the vehicle (as a fleet activity). Underground roads and parking garages become easier to construct and more paletable if the vehicles have no "concurrent emissions", and space is better utilized if vehicles are smaller. Standardizing on a charging station and max vehicle size will also help when installed in these parking garages. All parking spaces would have a charging station so vehicles would always be "topped off" minimizing range issues. This would both help with congestion and air quality (the real reason to go this route, not some green anti-carbon fantasy).
Couple that with mass transit where some of the suburb station parking spaces are reserved for the small electric vehicles (with standardized charging stations). As time goes on, more and more of the parking spaces will be reserved for electric's encouraging suburban use of PEV's.
HOV lanes and toll roads can be free for the SMALLER pure EV's.
If NYC or Chicago went electric this way (say by 2020), that would immediately create a mass market for electrics. Then (and only then, with a mass market) would pricing become an issue and cheaper (but heavier, shorter range) chemistries would then be viable. These cars could actually be cheaper than ICE vehicles!
This can be done (in fact, I think it's probably inevitable as population densities increase and oil prices rise). This is probably more likely to start in the east (China) where densities and polution are already beyond bad (and a rising middle class less inclinded to tolerate it).
Good points, GlennA. One pattern I've seen over the decades is that high oil costs spur exploration and technology development (such as horizontal drilling) to get to more oil. Once the new sources of oil come on line, the price goes down again. These technology developments may help make North America energy independent in the next 10 to 15 years. That's a development I never expected to see. Of course, a lot of that move to energy independence will come from natural gas.
Rob Spiegel; Yes. The (rising) cost of oil and gasoline does make hybrids and EV's more feasible. Also, as oil prices increase, reserves that are more difficult / expensive to produce become profitable. The oil companies are few in number, and vertically integrated, which makes it easier to manipulate expenses and prices. The game is to maximize profits, but not so much as to lose the market to EV's. Is it a coincidence that gasoline prices seem to increase until the economy stalls, and hybrid and EV sales increase, and then the price of gasoline drops ? The oil companies will 'charge what the market will bear'. And those who will disagree should review their Econ 101 notes about Markets and Monopoly's.
Another block to the development of a real market for EVs is the cost of oil. The prevailing thought was that rising oil prices would spur consumer interest in EVs and also make them more affordable. But technological advances in obtaining oil may keep oil at a low enough price that the EV won't be able to earn back its high cost. Add to that the improvements in internal combustion engines and the EV may not look so great.
Yes overpriced EV's are not selling great in China as here because they build then overweight, size and use expensive drives and batteries.
Had they, we built 1,000lb composite bodied, aero with lead batteries the mass production price would be $8-10k and save that in gasoline saving in 3-5 yrs or so making them very economical.
Why don't they? Because they would canibalize their big ICE car market thus why we get EV's designed to fail by being overweight, overpriced, overteched.
One has to notice no mention of the other EV's in China/Asia like 2-3wh ones that are selling fast in large quantities proving that done right, EV's are very good at lowering transport costs.
My own EV's show that with 250 and 600mpg equivalents for my 2 seat sportwagon and Harley size EV trike respectively and cost to build are very low as few parts needed. Why is they are lightweight and use lead batteries.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.