Electric Cars In The US

The fledgling market for electric cars is on the cusp of a major breakthrough as unprecedented investments in battery technology are making such cars affordable to many consumers in the United States and beyond, a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy predicts.

The price of batteries for electric cars, their most expensive part, will decrease 70 percent over the next five years, the agency says. That means the price of electric cars will drop to as low as $25,000 in the United States, a price equivalent to the cost of many new gasoline-powered cars. Hybrid cars that run on both electricity and gasoline will cost even less, the Energy Department estimates (PDF, 340KB).

United States factories stand to capture 40 percent of the global car battery market by 2015, thanks to the government’s $12 billion investment in advanced vehicle technologies, the report says. The money was allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, legislation passed by Congress to stimulate the struggling economy.

In all, $5 billion was earmarked to help “electrify” the nation’s transportation sector, with $2.4 billion approved to establish 30 electric battery and component manufacturing plants — money that has been matched by investments from the private sector.

“Through small business loans, a focus on research and development and investments in high-tech, fast-growing sectors like clean energy, we’ve aimed to grow our economy by harnessing the innovative spirit of the American people,” – President Obama said at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new battery plant in Michigan on July 15. By investing in battery plants for electric cars, the country is not only creating jobs, “it also means we’re going to be less dependent on foreign oil,” – Obama said.

The Michigan factory, constructed in a recession-battered part of the American Midwest, received a $151 million federal start-up grant. The factory will supply battery cells that General Motors will use in its Chevy Volt, a mostly electric car that hit the market last week, and for the electric edition of the Ford Focus, due in 2011.

By investing big in battery plants, the United States government is betting that consumers and organizations will respond once prices drop. A recent study in the United Kingdom suggested that owners of electric cars drive them the way they would a gasoline-powered vehicle. These drivers did not fear their car would run out of power and leave them stranded — an often-cited drawback of electric vehicles, the study reported.

Cities around the United States are installing grid-connected charging stations to prepare for an expected influx of electric cars. Some individual business owners are jumping on the bandwagon too.

A car dealer in Los Angeles made local headlines recently when he installed charging stations at his dealerships without any electric vehicles to sell. He plans to offer the electricity for free to any driver in need. “Anything to move the market forward is cool with me,” Mike Sullivan, the company’s owner, told the Los Angeles Business Journal.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

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One Comment

  1. Я уже не знаю сколько жду, не дождусь новых батарей для автомобилей.
    Конечно, для меня 25000 долл. дороговато… Но и моя машина старовата, менять надо. Тем не менее прогресс просматривается.

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