Automakers charged up about future for electric cars
General Motors again rolled out its Chevy Volt electric concept car at the Detroit auto show as a reminder that the struggling U.S. automaker intends to have it on sale by the end of 2010.
Cheering employees (above), as well as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, waved signs that read: “We’re electric,” “Charged up,” “Game changer” and “We’re here to stay” as they walked ahead of th Volt. GM has said the electric car will have a 40-miles driving range on one battery charge.
GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the Volt launch remains “very much” on track and a U.S. economic stimulus package could include “heavy federal incentives” for buying fuel-efficient cars. Research chief Larry Burns added that government backing for electric car technology should be modeled on support for the semiconductor industry in the 1980s.
U.S. rival Ford said it will have a small electric car ready for launch in 2011 that would get 100 miles to a charge, as well as a plug-in hybrid by 2012. It also will offer an electric commercial van in 2010. It said electric care sales would focus on urban markets with an initial sales target of 5,000 to 10,000 units.
Not to be outdone, Japan’s Toyota, the current king of green in the auto sector thanks to its Prius hybrid sedan, showed off its FT-EV electric concept and said it would launch an electric car for city commuting by 2012 in the United States.
Japan’s Nissan is promoting plans to commercialize electric cars, but Toyota has stressed such cars, including its own, would be suited only for short-distance travel for the time being given the limitations on battery storage technology and recharging infrastructure.