In France, for example, the ministry of sustainable development recently launched a national plan for the development of electric vehicles and rechargeable hybrids.
Bob Lutz is not the only one who sees a bright future for electric cars. Most of the major automotive manufacturers – as well as new players like BYD and Tesla – are investing heavily in electric vehicle design and manufacturing.
Governments and other public sector bodies from the U.S., France, the UK and other countries are making significant investments in the development of electric vehicles and introducing various tax credits, incentives and subsidies.
In France, for example, the ministry of sustainable development recently launched a national plan for the development of electric vehicles and rechargeable hybrids. Energy companies and other industries have also set their sights on electric vehicles. Exxon Mobil, for example, is sponsoring an all-electric car-sharing and rental program, called AltCar, at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.2 French utility company EDF is working with carmaker Renault on a recharge system enabling communication between recharge terminals and electric vehicles.3 In Germany, Renault and RWE, a leading European gas and electric company, have partnered to create a common transport and recharge system for electric vehicles.
The U.S. Postal Service is studying the feasibility of moving its fleet of 146,000 delivery vehicles to electric vehicles and consortia combining different groups are working together in countries like Israel and Portugal to test various integrated models
But most importantly, electric vehicle development is being strongly fueled by consumer demand stemming from economic and environmental factors.
In Capgemini’s Cars Online 09/10 study, 41% of consumers said they currently own a fuel-efficient and/or alternative-fuel vehicle, up from 36% the prior year. And another 30% said they plan to buy a fuel-efficient and/or alternative-fuel vehicle. Hybrids Lead the Way
Electric vehicles, particularly hybrid gas/electric cars, are the most commercially mature and viable of the various kinds of alternative vehicles and have demonstrated the potential to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emission. Gas/electric hybrids are the primary type of alternative-fuel vehicle that consumers currently own or plan to buy Hybrid electric vehicles still represent only a small share of overall car sales – estimated at about 1% in Europe and 2% in the U.S. Sales of hybrid cars, like all vehicles, have suffered recently.
Nevertheless, future demand is expected to grow, particularly in the U.S. and Japan, as prices of hybrid and other types of electric vehicles begin to drop. By some estimates, global sales of hybrid electric vehicles may surge at a compound annual growth rate as high as12% over the next few years.
Developing markets like Brazil, India and China are also expected to contribute to this growth as they put more focus on environmental issues such as CO2 reduction