With rising gas prices, the recent heightening of environmental awareness, and a useful long-term investment leading to potentially huge savings overtime, the electric car is almost a necessity for our future. Check out the following article from the people at the forefront of Electric Cars.
Article By Myron Kukla | The Grand Rapids Press
Plug-in electric cars will become popular when gas prices hit $5 a gallon — probably in 2017.
That was the projection of Smart Transportation analyst Dave Hurst of Pike Research, speaking as part of the Lakeshore Advantage Michigan Smart Coast series on advanced energy storage.
“The reason you don’t see a lot of plug-ins right now is because there’s not a lot of them available. In Michigan, you can only buy the Volt,” said Hurst, addressing about 250 area business executives from a cross section of local industry at the Doubletree Conference Center in Holland.
He said consumers also are waiting on battery range increases and price drops on personal electric vehicles before considering purchases.
The buildup to 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road likely will occur in 2016, Hurst said. In the meantime, lithium ion battery manufacturers such as the Holland-based LG Chem battery plant and Johnson Controls battery division are going to have excess capacity for about five years.
“I’d advise them to focus on the world market and sell their batteries for what ever applications are out there for use as power supplies to storage until the domestic market catches up,” said Hurst noting the U.S. plug-in battery market should reach about $3.2 billion 2017 and $14.6 billion worldwide.
Randy Thelen, president of Lakeshore Advantage economic development agency in Zeeland, said the impact of two major battery producers in Holland already has had a positive economic impact on the area.
“A total of 16 suppliers for the battery companies have moved into the local market and are quietly opening operations from 10,000 to 20,000 square-feet,” Thelen said.
And those companies are hiring new workers.
Hurst said research shows that the optimal price point for plug-in vehicles will be at $23,750, according to consumer surveys. Another key sales point for consumers will be 100-mile charge-range vehicles, although most commuting is done within 40 miles with average round trips coming in at 22.2 miles.
“All of the (plug-ins) have gas engines, so the charge range is really more a psychological factor,” he said.
What might be the engine that really kick starts the plug-in industry is fleet truck purchases by companies.
“The recovery cost on electric trucks should be two to six years. They should have an annual fuel cost of $960 compared to the cost of a gas hybrid of $7,000 a year,” Hurst said.
Bruce Wickmann, president of West Shore Aviation Management at the West Michigan Regional Airport in Holland, bought his 2012 Chevy Volt plug-in last fall and believes it’s the future of cars.
”In 1,500 miles, I’ve used three gallons of fuel. I’m averaging 500 to 700 miles to the gallon,” said Wickmann, who only had to use the gas engine on a few trips to Grand Rapids.
He estimates his Volt gets 40 to 45 miles on a charge in warm weather and 30 to 32 miles per charge in winter.
”Even with the government rebate of $7,500, it’s not going to be cost-efficient for a few years,” he said.
”But I believe we’ve got to start making the change and people need to get on board with electric vehicles.”
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