Tue May 27th, 2008 at 09:59:23 AM EST
There's an upbeat piece about the prospects for electric cars in the FT today:
If oil prices continue to rise and battery prices fall, he thinks electric vehicles could come to account for more than 25 per cent of the European market and 10 per cent globally. The estimate does not include hybrids, which have combustion engines but are powered partly by batteries that recharge from energy released by the car.
If so, it would mark one of the biggest technological shifts in a century of automotive history. Hybrids today account for a tiny portion of total automotive sales – less than 10 per cent even for Toyota, which is by far the market leader. Pure electric cars are rarer still, seldom sighted outside California.
What can change that – and what can still get in the way? After all, electric cars have had false starts before, failing to win consumers’ acceptance because of their cost, performance or driving range. General Motors discontinued its pioneering EV1 in 2003, citing related concerns and, in the words of a recent documentary, “killing the electric car”.
Yet surging petrol prices, advances in lithium-ion technology and growing environmental pressure on manufacturers and motorists to adopt greener vehicles are giving electric and hybrid models a new and arguably permanent lease on life. Carmakers are fast-tracking an unprecedented number of electric and hybrid vehicles through their product pipeline. By 2010 GM will be using lithium-ion batteries in three of its Saturn and Chevrolet brand hybrid cars. GM is introducing hybrids at the rate of one per quarter and says it will have 16 by 2012.
I can't actually tell if this would be a good thing or a bad thing in the long run: where are the hidden resource constraints here?