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Electric vehicles accounted for a tiny fraction of the annual 10-million new vehicle sales in the United States in 2009, and an even smaller proportion of the country's overall vehicle fleet, which experts at the Earth Policy Institute figure is about 246 million vehicles. But with the number of EVs expected to grow, what happens when there are more of them on the road?

With the launch of real EV's for mass market consumption comes the inevitable question: What's next? There are two big areas in which we're likely to see the engineering might of the world's automakers focus their attention for the next generation of electric-drive vehicles. The first is improving the packaging of the electric motors, while the second is improving charging.

As automakers gear up to roll thousands of electric cars into showrooms and onto the open road, prospective buyers have to consider a basic question: When and where will I plug in?

Electric vehicles (EVs) may be dramatically less mechanically complex than their traditional internal combustion counterparts, but that's where the simplicity ends. The battle that began with Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla over direct vs. alternating current continues to this day, the battlefield has just shifted to the EV powertrain. Electrochemical batteries can't store alternating current, the electrons will only flow directly in or out.

While it's been debated that the majority of electric vehicle (EV) owners will find little need for public chargers and will instead choose to juice their EVs up at home each night, a study from the clean technology market research firm Pike Research indicates that chargers are coming anyways. Tons of them. Even Pike's own study reveals that at-home charging will be the norm, but that won't stop vendors, municipalities and utility companies from installing all those public charging stations.

As the U.S. readies for an expected onslaught of electric vehicles (EVs), the San Francisco Bay Area is quickly becoming one of the regions that's particularly well-prepared for EVs. In late 2008, mayors from the Bay Area joined together to approve a multi-billion dollar plan that would eventually bring thousands of EV charging stations to the area. This initial plan successfully kicked off an ongoing drive to bring even more chargers to the Bay Area.

Earlier this week, automotive execs came together to discuss the future of the industry at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI. As Green Car Advisor reports, one of the sessions at the seminar was titled "Full-scale Deployment: Making the Business Case." This particular session focused on discussing the need for widespread deployment of public charging stations. However, the discussion quickly turned around as many panelists argued that there's si

By October 2011, the ChargePoint America program, assisted by Coulomb Technologies, is expected to complete installation of 4,600 free public and home charging stations funded by a $15-million grant from the U.S. government. The chargers will appear in nine regions across the U.S.: Austin, TX, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, FL, Sacramento, CA, the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, Bellevue/Redmond, WA, and Washington D.C.

As potential Leaf owners move through the process of purchasing Nissan's groundbreaking electric vehicle, it has become quite clear that the company has each and every step planned out to the smallest detail. Last week, we reported that home charger quotes were rolling in and that Nissan was spot on with its estimate that an installed charging unit would set potential Leaf buyers back about $2,200. No problems there. But as news of the charging quotes circulated around, a group of Toyota RAV4 EV

Companies working to build streetside electric vehicle chargers face a lot of obstacles. From deciding where to install them to worries about vandals unplugging the cord, there are a lot of issues that have nothing to do with the vehicle or the charging technology. Earlier today, when thinking about Coulomb's first Manhattan charging station, which is in a parking garage, we thought about one more problem with street-based charging units: how do you stop non-electric vehicles from parking there.

The state of Washington is hoping to turn the interstate 5 corridor that runs from Canadian border to Oregon into the nation's first electric highway. With the help of a $1.32 million federal grant, Washington hopes to install between seven and 10 so-called Level 3 electric vehicle charging stations along the main north-south road. Level 3 stations charge at 400 volts and 30 amps or more. Such stations can charge a typical EV battery to 80 percent full in under 30 minutes.

If you take a look at the Nissan Leaf reservation steps, outlined in the image above, you will immediately notice that installing a charger precedes ordering your Leaf. In fact, getting a charger is a pre-requisite for ownership. Nissan isn't the only automaker that plans to do this, but it does raise some cause for concern, especially when the possibility of price gouging exists. Here's what we mean.

As much as plug-in advocates would like to believe otherwise, mass adoption of battery electric vehicles (EVs) will not be the silver bullet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EVs are only one piece of the puzzle. In fact, cars of all kinds only represent 20-25 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Thus, even if we electrify the entire vehicle fleet, it won't come close to addressing the full scope of the greenhouse gas reductions that are needed.

According to a new study conducted by Pike Research, the number of electric vehicle (EV) charge points across the globe will reach 4.7 million by 2015. That's so many that the study suggests that the charging market will become overly crowded by next year.

In preparation for the December launch of its Leaf EV, Nissan has developed its own electric vehicle charge station that will be installed at all of its dealers in Japan.

More and more fast charging system will hit the streets over the next decade as electric vehicles become more common. As the market grows, more and more players will enter the space. One of them, Netherlands-based Epyon, showed off its new fast charger this week in Amsterdam along with a public display of the Nissan Leaf.

What if you could charge an electric vehicle (EV) in about the same amount of time that its take to fuel up a gasoline car? Would EVs reach mainstream status if charging them was a simple, three minute procedure? Well, we may find out soon. The Nikkei newspaper is reporting that Japen-based JFE Engineering Corp. has developed an entirely new charging system that can take an electric vehicle from empty to halfway charged in just three minutes. Get your stopwatches ready.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

With the growing fame of the Tesla Roadster and imminent release of the Nissan Leaf, it seems like everyone is trumpeting electric cars these days. Yet a troubling question remains: How are we going to create an infrastructure for charging?

One of the big selling points of electric vehicles (EVs) has been the ability to skip past gas stations and "fuel up" cars entirely at home. Until now, though, EVs have largely been the realm of hobbyists and enthusiasts. Starting later this year, the first wave of mass-produced, mainstream electrics will begin arriving at Nissan and Chevrolet dealers followed by many others in the near future. In order for most of these new EV drivers to charge their cars at home, they will need to upgrade thei

Forecasting the future is not always easy and, sometimes, far from accurate, but we like predictions because they usually give us some idea of what to expect as we move forward. In this instance, the predictions point to a world in which plug-in vehicle chargers are almost as common as gas stations. Well, not quite, but they do suggest that the U.S. will lead the world in something – and that's always worth talking about.

Chevrolet Volt home charging – Click above for high-res image gallery

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