The state of electric cars

With an electric car company at the center of a new hyped-up media “scandal,” it’s good to have a little perspective. Coincidentally, EnergyNOW’s program this week looks at the current state of the EV industry.

While remarkable progress has been made in bringing electric cars to market in recent years, as anyone who follows the industry knows, it’s not all sunshine and roses. While major automakers have made big announcements of new electric models, sales have fallen short of expectations. And several startups have gone out of business, for example: Green Vehicles, which went bankrupt 7 months after receiving $535,000 in support from the city of Salinas, California.

And, of course, EVs are expensive, drawing complaints that government money is being spent to produce cars for rich people. It’s a fair point, but one that disregards the history government has in incubating new technologies so they can be brought to scale.

“Our vision is to drive down the price of electric vehicles and the technology that makes them possible — relentlessly,” says Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel.

Straubel says the environment for start-ups is only getting tougher, because so many of the big automakers are getting into the EV business.

For instance, Mitsubishi, which is putting 1,000 electric cars on the streets of Normal, Illinois, where its North American headquarters is located.

The Mistubishi i, incidentally, retails for under $30,000, and comes in closer to $21,000 after tax credits.

3 thoughts on “The state of electric cars

  1. These EVs are essentially taxpayer funded expensive golf carts. The range of the fully charged Leaf or mid priced Tesla is about the same as that on your ICE when the warning light comes on to tell you to head for the nearest gas station for a ten minute fill up. One of our neighbors gets to display his eco conscience with his EV, funded by the rest of us.

  2. Well, yes, but Rolf…
    Surely you’re aware that there are a number of socialized external costs from burning gasoline. The military actions to secure the oil supply and the effects of the pollution from the tailpipe are all “funded by the rest of us” too, aren’t they?
    Why is one subsidy OK but not the other?

  3. That episode of EnergyNOW is fantastic. Great interview with Director Chris Paine, and cool story on IBM’ Li-Air battery research.

    @Rolf She just may. And when she does, the rest of us will benefit from less local air pollution, less oil dependence, more-secure national security, more economic resilience, less noise pollution, more renewable energy, and stronger local economies. Funded, Yes, by us.