Plotting the long road to one million electric cars

Electric car industry group EDTA is set to issue a policy wish list, arguing that policies are needed to establish battery manufacturing and charging infrastructure.

Meeting the Obama Administration's goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015 will only happen with a coordinated set of policies and technology advances, according to an electric vehicle association.

Click on the image to see the EDTA's data on potential emissions reductions from electric vehicles. EDTA

The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) on Tuesday is expected to release a set of policy recommendations for ushering in what auto industry executives call a major technological shift away from gas-only cars to electrics.

EDTA members include auto manufacturers, battery companies, a number of electric utilities, and other industry associations. The group is lobbying for policies to boost domestic manufacturing industry, fund technology research, and launch wide-scale testing of electric vehicles. It said tax incentives, which currently give consumers up to a $7,500 rebate depending on battery size, should be extended to a higher number of cars and private fleet purchases.

On the technology side, batteries remain the biggest hurdle. The EDTA said the Department of Energy should fund to develop and test energy storage and fuel cells systems.

"Energy storage capability is the key to the success of the vehicles and also is the enabling technology for using renewable power as a transportation fuel," according to the EDTA's policy recommendation report.

In an indication how of important battery technology is, General Motors decided to manufacture the battery pack for the Chevy Volt and other electric-gas cars itself , rather than purchase the packs from a supplier. The battery cells will be supplied by LG Chem.

In addition to technology progress, battery and auto company executives say that establishing a supply chain of electric vehicle components will require collaboration among different companies. Fourteen U.S. companies have established an alliance to lobby the U.S. government for $1 billion in federal aid to build up U.S. battery manufacturing, according to a Wall Street Journal report published last December.

Click on the image to see a photo gallery from the Electric Drive Transportation Association's Conference & Exposition last year. Martin LaMonica/CNET Networks

Car manufacturers will need to provide warranties on batteries which have not yet had years of testing among consumers, the EDTA said. Some automakers have considered leasing batteries, which will allow consumers to upgrade to newer batteries.

The EDTA also argues that new business models are required to prompt consumers to purchase electric vehicles, even though they promise a jump in fuel efficiency .

The group recommends setting up an infrastructure for charging stations, coordinating with utilities and companies that test fleets of plug-in electric vehicles, including government agencies.

"By helping public and private entities to build coherent alternative vehicle and infrastructure solutions, the federal government can help the industry to move beyond the 'chicken vs. egg' question ," according to the report.

 

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