The electrification of car traffic is inevitable and essential to maintain our mobility, address climate change, reduce pollution and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel imports. That’s the only way to guarantee secure and affordable energy in the future.
Slowly, the upcoming transition becomes obvious to the people. Policymakers, automakers, battery manufacturers and utility companies are teaming up to push the development of electric cars forward and to get things ready for their large-scale introduction.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the expected shift towards electric cars a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”. The sky-rocketing oil prices have pushed forward the development of alternative ways to power today’s society and encouraged technological innovation. Mr. Brown also announced the large-scale installation of electric vehicle charging points in “thousands” of British streets.
General motors announced a partnership with more than 30 utility companies and the Electric Vehicle Research Institute to come up with solutions for the remaining problems with the use of electric cars. Driving electric cars and recharging them should become convenient. Therefore, GM and the utility group are working on plans to get the infrastructure ready – which also involves guaranteeing that the electric grid can handle the increased power demand. Utilities would also benefit from the widespread sale of plug-in electric vehicles as they could sell more electricity during off-peak hours. Most electric cars will be recharged at night tapping into capacities which are often unused today. Many power plants can’t be switched off at night and therefore, there’s often excess supply at night. Another area of collaboration between utility companies and automakers is the promotion of electric cars and lobbying for tax incentives for electric cars that should encourage drivers to purchase rather an electric vehicle than a conventional one despite the higher purchase price. Tax incentives in combination with the fuel savings could easily offset the higher initial price within one year or so. In big cities, electric cars could be exempt from congestion charges (as it’s already the case in London) because they have zero tailpipe emissions.
Electric cars are becoming part of the present much earlier than most people expected. Actually, that’s not surprising as the benefits are obvious. Drivers would be freed immediately from soaring gasoline prices, it’s a simple and already in hand technology, the negative impact on the environment would be reduced decisively and less money’d be channeled to oil exporting countries while domestic jobs could be created. With the expected progress in battery development and the increased share of renewables contributing to electricity generation, cars powered by electricity will become even more efficient, reliable, convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly.
Provided that there’s adequate government support for this top priority isssue, electric cars can be expected to roll up the automobile market within a few years. They are the future of the automobile industry and they’ll be available to the mass-market starting in 2010. Running them will just cost a few cents per kilometer in electricity.
Despite claims that electric cars wouldn’t be able to succeed without generous subsidies, the Japanese automaker Nissan expects that its all-electric cars will generate profits and will be priced competitively. The company said that it wouldn’t sell the cars unless it could make a profit immediately at an affordable price.
Besides electric cars, compact and small fuel-efficient cars are also considered to be dominating the market in the short and medium term. Ford is shifting its focus from large gas-guzzlers to smaller cars to maintain its sales in a declining market. The company is expected to convert three of its large assembly plants in North America from the production of large trucks and SUVs to small cars with high fuel economy. To get more fuel-efficient cars into the product lineup quickly, Ford will introduce several of its European models in the US for the first time.