Automakers Jockey for Position in Electric Car Market

Despite the shortcomings of electric cars, OEMs are pursuing wide range of electric vehicle architectures from hybrids to pure electrics.

Published: 21-Jan-2010

Battery-powered electric cars gained momentum at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) held in Detroit in January, even as experts wondered whether consumers are ready for the new technology.

A bevy of manufacturers — including Nissan, Ford, Tesla Motors, BYD Auto, CT&T and others — showed off new electric vehicles (EVs) at the show, with some slated for introduction as early as this year. Show officials cordoned off 37,000 sq ft of floor space for the electrics, and even set up a quarter-mile track inside Cobo Center, complete with real pine trees and daffodils where show attendees could test drive the cars amidst a virtual forest. EV battery makers also made appearances, displaying products with lithium-ion, lithium polymer and lithium iron-sulfate chemistries.

"We believe battery systems development is going to be a core competency for Ford in the 21st century," said Ford Chairman William Clay Ford, after the automotive giant announced it is bringing its EV battery development in-house.

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The range limitations of most early electric cars will matter less in tightly packed urban areas, where the daily driving distance is likely to be much shorter than in the suburbs or rural areas.

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