Electric Car Promises Belie Internal Combustion Realities

Contrary to the fanfare at the Detroit show, battery cars, gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and even diesels, will only be afterthoughts in the U.S. for the foreseeable future, writes Neil Winton.

Published: 26-Jan-2009

Listening, watching and reading the international media's reporting on the Detroit car show, you could be forgiven for thinking that we will soon all be zipping around noiselessly in environmentally neutral electric cars.

Ford said it will have battery-powered vans in 2010 and an electric Ford Focus-size sedan in 2011. Mercedes Smart already has a battery-powered little city runabout. BMW's electric Mini, being evaluated on the road by prospective customers mainly in California, is said to achieve 150 miles on a single charge. A BMW executive offered up a possible hostage to fortune by claiming at the show that a battery-powered Mini could make it all the way around Lake St Clair.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising claim of all came from BYD Auto of China, which claimed a battery range of 250 miles for its E6, and only 10 minutes for a 50 percent recharge.

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