Today’s NY Times online business section points up the risks auto makers are taking on with the introduction of new PHEVs. Toyota has even moved up its launch of the plug-in Prius to fall of 2009. While this is pretty fantastic – an indication that the auto industry knows it can’t bet its future on petroleum – they are leaving the risk of fueling infrastructure to others. I think its a safe bet that even Better Place, Shai Agassi’s well-publicized venture, won’t be able to scale up fast enough to drive consumer demand. This risk has to be spread around, and it’s an opportunity to let a thousand (well, a dozen, maybe) ventures bloom in a new market.
General Motors: Chevy Volt scheduled for production in 2010 (20,000 units)
Subaru: R1e testing in NYC 2008
Mitsubishi: i Miev testing in CA 2008/9
Renault-Nissan alliance: zero-emission vehicles being produced in TN, for 2010 release
Daimler: smart ev cars are in trial in the UK
Tesla Motors: recently introduced its Roadster, a high-end electric sportscar. A more affordable design Model S, is planned (15,000 units in 2011)
THINK: popular in Europe, the Th!nk city car will be available in the U.S. in 2010
What will drivers of all these vehicles have in common? They’ll need to plug in and charge their vehicle at convenient locations.
Those who already have electrified wheels on the ground have found ways to locate and share access to power. Unfortunately, most of it come from non-
The Electric Automobile Association , which appears to be a delightfully spirited community, has chapters all over the US. The New England chapter even offers a map and directions to power outlets that welcome EVs. It’s a start – but not enough ignition to rev up consumer demand, I think.