News Deluge for Plug-in Vehicles

One way to measure progress in our efforts to get plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) back on the market is this: Five years ago, Plug In America’s founders were trying to attract media attention to the demand for EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Today, the electrification of transportation is so much in the news, it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Here’s a pot pourri of examples that crossed my desk just today.

BYD e6The Chinese automaker BYD and German automaker Daimler have joined forces to co-develop EVs for the Chinese market, Business Week reports. BYD signed a separate agreement with Volkswagen last May. (Photo of BYD’s e6 prototype electric car from Wikipedia.)

Speaking of Volkswagen, the company plans to put 500 electric Golfs on the road for testing in 2011, and by 2013 offer three models of EVs or PHEVs,treehugger reports from the Geneva Auto Show. The Volkswagen announcement predicted they’d be selling 300,000 EVs per year by 2018, but it’s unclear whether they included conventional gasoline-dependent hybrids in that number.

Consumers certainly seem ready to scoop up that many plug-ins and more, according to a new survey by Ernst and Young. Automotive News reports that more than 10% of U.S. consumers would consider buying an EV or PHEV. That adds up to 20 million vehicles. If even a fraction of those follow through, demand will far outpace supply for years. Also in the survey results: 34% of consumers are willing to subsidize local charge stations.

RAVs charging Stefano Two other news items today reported programs underway to build charge stations in Kansas City and in Northern California. Kansas City Power & Light Company is installing 10 charge stations and planning an educational campaign to prep consumers for the introduction of plug-in vehicles, the ]Kansas City Star reports. (Keep in mind, that region is not one of the early-rollout locations targeted by automakers — making the Kansas City utility’s effort all the more impressive.) In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Bay Area Air Quality Management Board announced $428,000 in grants to multiple cities, counties and companies to install 226 charge stations in the region, the San Jose Mercury News reports. See the list at the end of that story. (Photo of one of the existing public charge stations for the last generation of EVs, by Tom Dowling.)

EVs grab many of the headlines, but PHEVs are just as hot. General Motors is honing its focus by dropping plans for an electric Cadillac Converj to focus on PHEVs (or as it calls them, extended range electric vehicles), Hybridcars.com reports. The electric action at the Geneva Auto Show inspired The New York Times to report that the car industry really is moving plug-in vehicles from prototypes to showrooms.

Those are just the highlights of the plug-in news that my computer brought me today. A tip o’ the hat to EVworld.com for drawing my attention to the Ernst & Young survey and the New York Times article.

Considering that this year is just the beginning of the new era of mass-market plug-in vehicles, it’s safe to say that the news drought we labored against for years has broken, and the perfect storm for plug-in vehicles in the years ahead will produce a news deluge.

— Sherry Boschert (@sherryboschert on Twitter)

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