The cost of plug-in electric vehicles is right up there with perceived loss of convenience as a stumbling block for mass adoption of electric vehicles. To help figure out what it will take to climb over the cost hurdle, the U.S. Dept. of Energy would like to hear from you.

In March, President Obama introduced the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, with the goal of enabling, within 10 years, U.S. companies to produce plug-in electric vehicles that are as affordable to families as other cars on the market. And to be first in the world to do it. Public comments on the EV Everywhere Initial Framing Document must be received by October 29, 2012 at the latest.

The framing document was developed as a means to receive stakeholder engagement in the planning process and then serve as the common framework through public information exchanges and public comment. The document offers some potential combinations of PEVs and charging infrastructures to accomplish EV Everywhere objectives: plug-in hybrids that have a 40-mile all-electric range and then limited fast-charging infrastructure; all-electric vehicles with 100-mile ranges along with access to significant intra- and inter-city fast charge infrastructure; and 300-mile EVs and a whole lot of inter-city fast charge infrastructure.

Questions will be asked to delve in the issues, such as whether the goals of developing PEVs with a payback time less than five years, sufficient range and fast-charging ability is appropriate. The optimal roles of the private sector, government laboratories, and academia in accelerating PEV technology will also be explored. If you want to chime in on these issues, now's the time.

Early versions of the three categories defined for study – plug-in hybrids with 40 mile battery only range, EVs with 100 mile range or 300 mile range and fast charging capabilities – are already on the market. The problem is that their sticker prices are higher than what typical American families consider viable, even when there's access to federal tax incentives and state rebates. Significant levels of fast charging networks are also on the horizon.

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