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PHOTO CAPTION: Think electric car was forced into short-lived bankruptcy... again in 2008. Financial rescue revives line, but future remains uncertain.

Electric Cars Disappoint in '08

Bringing electric car technology to the market is proving daunting for all players, large and small.

Published: 17-Jan-2009

The Detroit Auto Show is underway, and the world’s most famous vehicle brands are touting the next generation of cars. And although yesterday’s fervent promises of hydrogen-powered vehicles have mostly fallen away, they’ve been replaced with new promises, this time centered around the idea of the electric car.

Don’t believe the hype. Although electric vehicles are almost certainly the way forward, much of the motion is really a show intended to sway the opinion of consumers and legislators in the short term. Startups hope to build an early niche, and America’s big auto makers are hoping their fervent hand-waving will bring accolades and government money — but in the near term, we’ll see little motion in the industry.

Why, you may ask, when all the technology needed for electric cars already exists, and hybrids like the Toyota Prius have already been a sales success? If you’ve been paying attention for the past year, you should know the answer. For everyone else, here’s a flashback to the distant year of 2008, which was intended to start the electric vehicle Renaissance.

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