You probably missed it. National Plug-in Day this past Sunday when owners of electric cars and plug-in hybrids gathered in 60 cities to celebrate the fledging technology. The celebration didn't get much coverage given the relatively small number of electric vehicle owners, but their numbers are growing.
More electric cars than ever are expected to be sold in the U.S. this year, but the totals are, at most, in the tens of thousands and nowhere near the 14 million-plus vehicles that are expected to be sold. And the news for electric vehicles is mixed.
That same day said Electric car maker Tesla (TSLA) announced its first Supercharger stations to allow its Model S electric vehicle to travel long distances. But a day later Tesla cut its 2012 revenue forecast by 27% citing the slower-than expected rollout of its Model S Sedan.
And last week the Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal tax credit of up to $7500 per electric car was a very expensive way to reduce gasoline consumption—and a higher federal gasoline tax made more sense.
None of these developments, however, faze Bob Lutz, a former vice chairman of GM (GM) who led the development of the company's electric car. "This is a market in its infancy but by 2020 or 2025 maybe 10% of the world's production will be electric vehicles," or about 7 million of the 70 million vehicles sold, he says.
Lutz likens the electric car to the gasoline-fueled car at the turn of the last century. Back then most people traveled by horse and buggy but the car eventually replaced that mode of the transportation. He expects the electric car will eventually replace the gasoline-fueled car, but not until the price of electric vehicles falls and the range they can travel increases.
"Over time the cost of batteries will come down, the cost of the rest of the technologies will come down , the energy storage of batteries will increase four or five-fold, in ten years probably 10-fold," says Lutz. "[Eventually] you'll have a $28,000 medium-sized car with a battery pack and an electric motor in it and every morning when you wake up you'll have 400 miles in the tank. what's wrong with that?"
In the meantime, says Lutz, GM "is satisfied" with the progress of the Volt. Its sales are increasing, although the company is not yet making money on the vehicle. He says reports of huge factory discounts on the Volt are wrong but the company is offering "very good lease rates" on the vehicle. And the Volt , which gets "well over 250 miles per gallon" has already saved several supertankers worth of fuel in a year.
More such savings are expected--and likely more electric vehicles produced-- when new U.S. fuel economy standards requiring 54.5 mile per gallon for the average fleet by 2025 take effect.
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