Bumpy Road Ahead for Electric Car Startups

Even with extensive engineering teams, the large companies are grappling with uncertainties about how lithium-ion batteries will perform in the vehicles long-term.

Published: 19-Jan-2009

OIT -- Several startup automakers are in hot pursuit of electric-powered vehicles, but they face an uphill road as they challenge major car companies like Toyota and General Motors in the race for the green car market.

California-based Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive displayed cars at the North American International Auto Show last week, grabbing attention with sleek electric-drive vehicles that combine environmentally friendly chic with sports car sex appeal.

Tesla, which started in 2004, showcased its $109,000 all-electric two-seat Roadster at the Detroit show and hopes to unveil its Model S electric car in late February, CEO Elon Musk said in an address last week before the Society of Automotive Analysts.

Musk announced that Tesla has been working with Daimler since late 2007 in a partnership to produce 1,000 electric Smart microcars.

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The company is working with a number of vehicle manufacturers on the development of batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles and expects more announcements like this one to come.

With seating up of four people who use all the large muscle groups, the car can easily cruise at speeds of up to 20 mph.

ZAP is hoping to keep the MSRP at $30,000 for the Alias three-wheeler pictured here.

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