Speaking to the Commonwealth Club of California this week, GM CEO Rick Wagoner told the gathering that in order for electric cars to make a difference in global warming it will require large numbers of them to be deployed at prices that mainstream buyers can afford. While a few hundred Tesla Roadsters or Fisker Karmas may make the owners feel better about themselves, in the U.S. vehicle fleet of 200 million vehicles they they won't make any real measurable difference in the grand scheme of things. To make a significant impact on fuel consumption and emissions, millions of cars and trucks every year need to be more efficient. However, that can only happen if those vehicles are affordable to average car buyers.
When Wagoner was asked why it's taking as long as it is to bring the Volt to market he explained that it's a lot harder to create a viable $20,000 electric car than one that costs $100,000. Nonetheless it has taken Tesla almost as long to bring the Roadster to the street as GM will have spent on the Volt program. We still don't know how much cars like the Volt will cost consumers or GM when they launch, but one thing is certain: they won't be $20,000. Someday, the price may get closer to that price but that will take time and some serious battery cost reduction. In the meantime, parallel efforts to create large numbers of other kinds of more efficient vehicles will have to continue. That's why companies like Ford are pushing forward with smaller turbocharged engines that are lighter and relatively inexpensive. They can put hundreds of thousands or millions of these on the road annually at prices the masses can afford.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]

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