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Electric Car Explosion Coming to U.S.

TH!NK City.jpg

As I perused the bountiful wares of Rexville Grocery in rural Washington State last week, I was surprised to see a sign in their front window advertising an electric-vehicle charging station.

The small market and community center (which, at this time of year, offers delectable pies with berries plucked right from the surrounding farmlands) sits in the heart of the fertile Skagit Valley, about 60 miles (about 97 kilometers) from Seattle.

The concept of a country-store charging station spurred me to look into how mainstream electric cars—already popular in Europe— are faring in the U.S.

Hybrids have long been hot, of course—for instance, much has been made recently of the newly released third-generation Prius, which features integrated solar-powered technology.

For electric vehicles, it seems they are just on the cusp of going mainstream. I found the handy Plug-in Vehicle Tracker on Plug-In America’s Web site, which maintains a list of most companies developing new electric vehicles.

According to the tracker, only two electric cars are now widely available in the U.S.: Commuter Cars’s tiny Tango T600 EV, a two-passenger commuter car that sells for about U.S. $108,000, and the Tesla Roadster, which also carries a $100,000-plus price tag.

There’s apparently a healthy electric car demand among the high-end crowd: Just today, Tesla opened its first East Coast dealership in New York City.

But one of most affordable cars in the pipeline seems to be TH!NK city, a compact electric car that can travel up to 112 miles (about 180 kilometers) on a single charge. It will have recyclable plastic body panels and a fully recyclable interior for a low carbon footprint.

It’s produced by Think, a Norwegian car manufacturer that announced it would begin building a manufacturing plant in the U.S. this year, with a starting annual capacity of about 16,000 cars.

“The U.S. is quickly overtaking Europe as an attractive market for [electric vehicles], and is an ideal location to engineer and build EVs,” Think CEO Richard Canny said in a statement.

A limited number of model and demonstration TH!NK cars will be available in 2010 (no starting price is listed on their Web site), but the Gas 2.0 blog says it won’t be until 2011 that we’ll be able to get one.

But if the plug-in tracker is any indication, we’re going to be inundated with electric vehicles by 2013, including several new Chrysler models, Chevrolet’s Volt PHEV, the Ford Focus EV, and more.

So go find that charging station near you.

Christine Dell’Amore

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Related:

–How green is your road trip?

–Have an eco-savvy summer with these tips.

Photograph courtesy Think

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  6. Linda
    June 21, 2010, 3:03 am

    The concept is actually good. Yet the cost is not affordable. The manufacturers should have people in their concern and scale their product.
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    June 21, 2010, 12:43 am

    With the current environmental disaster that the BP oil spill has caused it has certainly put to light in many of our heads whether oil, gasoline and petrol is the way to go in future. I believe that electric cars will be a very welcoming change in light of the oil spill crisis, however, the market of alternative fuel vehicles seems to come across quite a few red lines to as if they are commercially not viable. So now the big question is, WHY?
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  8. leo12
    June 19, 2010, 8:55 am

    I think that the auto companies don’t want people to wait for EV’s, because if they did it would negatively impact near term gas powered auto sales. I think that’s what his comments are designed to do. People hear this and think, well I can’t wait that long for an EV so I’ll just buy a small gas powered car. registry easy

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    June 19, 2010, 8:54 am

    The other thing is – technology aside – cost wil swing it. That may sound strange when the ticket price of EVs is one of the biggest problems at present. But there is far FAR greater complexity in a modern internal combustion engine and its many bolt-on requirements. This is already making combustion engined cars more expensive to build – with only the battery cost masking this. So when battery prices do tumble, combustion engined cars will become uncompetitive. men’s jewellery

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  12. leo12
    May 31, 2010, 12:10 am

    The issues he identifies are being addressed with tremendous vigour now. Battery swap stations might be seen as a way of temporarily getting round the distance issue – but may themselves become so acceptable as to not require greater battery range. And cost will surely tumble as soon as the world decides which battery is favourite and it goes into quantity production. Once the electric VW Up and an electric VW Golf become available, I can see VW widening their adoption of EVs faster than Leohold currently believes possible. chaga

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    May 29, 2010, 12:51 am

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  14. glenwoodnyc
    May 5, 2010, 1:42 pm

    Always glad to see the electric car gaining momentum. There aregreen apartments in NYC featuring garages with electric car charging stations. All these are good signs of growth for this industry.

  15. teppy
    January 28, 2010, 10:29 pm

    Good news. This vehicle will definitely meet US and European standards. EV’s got innovative superchips too. Let’s just think of all the money we won’t be spending on gas.