The Push Towards An Electric Automobile Future

Just one year ago, the Mini E, Fisker Karma, Tesla Roadster, and Nissan Leaf were the four fully electric vehicles announced for the North American market at last year's New York International Auto Show (jn addition to a few scattered fleet vehicles, such as the Subaru R1). This year, I almost lost count. The electric cars confirmed for lease or for sale in North America within the next 12 months include (in addition to the four mentioned above):

BMW ActiveE (EV 1 series)

Mitsubishi iMiEV

Ford Focus EV

Smart Electric Drive

Toyota RAV4 EV (coming back after being discontinued during the previous generation)

There is disagreement among auto manufacturers as to how to achieve an all electric powertrain future. Hyundai wants to keep its prices low, so it is looking to maximize fuel efficiency from direct injection engines and next generation, ultra lubricated transmissions. Ford is charging ahead with EV, hoping to eventually launch an electric F150 and Mustang in the years ahead. They have even partnered with Microsoft to develop efficient, intelligent charging systems and software. Audi wants to get its customers on board with high milage diesel for a decade or so before the switch to all electric. And BMW has had to make the difficult but necessary decision to switch all of its mainstream cars to front wheel drive, and then to electric FWD.

I just hope auto manufacturers continue what they have restarted. They need to continue to develop and produce electric vehicles, because eventually, there won't be any more affordible gasoline. It's a tricky movement, because auto consumers would like to buy EV cars that have a range greater than 75 miles, but they don't want to spend more than $5,000 above the price of a similar, gasoline powered vehicle. Since that is currently impossible, we need to encourage both sides to hang in there, and push the engineering and price points to practical, affordable, sustainable levels.