The Electric Car

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The future seems bright for the electric car. Gasoline prices are high. The government is investing billions of dollars in battery technology. Car companies are preparing to roll-out electrified a dozen new models. Concerns about the impact on the climate of burning oil is growing. And pull up tough new fuel economy standards.

But is the state of the electric car bleak, hyped expectations of the victim, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate. General Motors has temporarily suspended production of the plug-in electric Chevy Volt, due to low sales. Nissan all-electric sheet is to fight in the market. A number of start-up electric car and battery companies have folded. And the federal government's multi-billion dollar development program for vehicles equipped with the latest technology in the face of setbacks, the market has slowed and heavy political criticism.

The $ 41,000 volts, in particular, has become a target of conservatives. Glenn Beck called the Volt "shitty." Rush Limbaugh accused of General Motors' attempt to kill their customers "by selling an unsafe car. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during a campaign for president in Georgia last month that the voltage is too small to war (an allegation repeatedly proven to be wrong on YouTube) a gun rack handle.

Daniel F. Akerson, chairman of General Motors, defended the Volt before Congress earlier this year after revelations that the battery in a Volt caught fire three weeks after a federal crash tests. Federal authorities finally declared the car is no longer flammable than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

"Unfortunately, there are some things that we wanted to build," said Mr. Akerson. "Although we have loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art security features, we do not have an engineer on the Volt a political punching bag. And that, unfortunately, is what happened to it."

Is this the beginning of the end of the last experiment in the electric car, its colorful history dating back to the early days of the automobile age? Can the electric car only survive with heavy government subsidies and large consumer rebates? Tesla and Fisker are the voltage and leaves and ActiveEs and intended to only the toys of technology enthusiasts to be rich with a few spare gas-powered cars at home?

Or is that what looks like a new technology before passing through the valley of death?

"Face it, this is not an easy task," Brett Smith, assistant research director, said at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "You do not have an energy storage device is nothing for prime-time is ready. You do not have the chicken and egg problem with the charging infrastructure. That's not to say that it is not viable in the long run. However, the hype is gone and the challenges are still there. "

The market for all-electric and plug-in electric cars in the United States is tiny, amounting to less than 20,000 sales last year of total light-vehicle sales of 12.8 million euros. Even in the optimistic forecasts, will make plug-in vehicles of less than 5 percent of the global market in 2025.

Hybrids that no external charge, however, as the current Toyota Prius and many others already in showrooms, are a growing segment. Economists say it could be as much as six percent of the market place by 2015 and 25 percent in 2025, partly because of the few vehicles that are currently on track to proposed new fuel economy standard by the government of about to meet 50 miles per gallon in 2025.

Other propulsion technologies such as natural gas and fuel cells are more likely to be seen in the first heavy-duty trucks and vans because of the limitations of local refueling.

Jon is a former G.M. Bereisa Systems engineer who helped design the Volt and was one of the leading developers of the company's experiment in the mid-1990s, electric vehicles, the ill-fated EV1. He says that the outlook for the electric car much better now than then, but to take the technical development, cost reduction and acceptance by the consumer go far more than most people expect.

"There's a lot more political support for it today for a variety of reasons," he said. "Global warming, security of energy supply, oil prices are aligned with all of these vectors support the electrification of the automobile, be it hybrid, plug-in hybrid extended-range battery-electric or full is."

But he added that the Volt an incredibly complicated device was in the early stages of development. "If you press the start button, you will run for 10 million lines of software. On an F-15, it's about eight million lines of code. You are really driving a modern computer center and a lot can go wrong."

He pointed out that the current Volt was the first generation and predicted that the third version, which will be 2020-2025, is gaining widespread acceptance as long as GM does not stop the project and the government relies on a nationwide infrastructure of recharging stations.

President Obama, who has been a strong supporter of alternative vehicle and fuel technologies proposed in this month more than $ 4 billion to spend for the purchase of electric and natural gas vehicles to promote and accelerate the construction of loading and fueling stations. He looks to the current $ 7500 incentive to buy electric and plug-in electric vehicles to increase to $ 10,000, and make it a point-of-sale rebate instead of a credit be claimed on a tax return.