Will 2010 be the year of the electric car?

The trends from automakers at the Detroit Auto show, happening this week, seem to suggest so. Due to the current economic climate, the worsening recession, and increasing concerns around climate change and global oil reserve depletion, car manufacturers are eager to highlight new versions of smaller, less expensive cars, many of which get up to 40 miles per gallon on highways. Hybrids and electric cars are also taking center stage, with many auto manufacturers debuting electric models. Electric cars still seem to be firmly rooted in the future realm in the majority of the United States, with lack of ubiquitous charging stations and the current high cost of electric cars, but hopefully this is changing. A $100 million federal grant to the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation is a great start, as are the 2500 electric car charging stations in 5 chosen cities (one of which is Seattle - yay! For more on Seattle's Electric Vehicle initiative, see the following November 1, 2009 story in the Seattle PI).

One major reason I was regretting no longer living in Colorado this past year had to do with the forward-thinking $42,000 tax credit Colorado gave new Tesla roadster buyers, if they purchased the $109,900 car before December 31. For those who don't know, the Tesla Roadster is an unquestioned sports car, a two-seater that is so low-slung it feels like you're climbing down into a bucket seat in a race car, with the thinnest barrier between you and the road, that goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. I had the thrill of being taken for a test drive in the Roadster last year, (yep, that's me in the passenger seat in the pic) and I swear, I felt g-forces throw me back against the seat and keep me there; seatbelt unnecessary! I admit, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the car since. That's the best discount on a pure luxury item I've ever heard of, at nearly 50%, putting this fantasy car well within reach, at least to those in the market for "normal" high-end brands like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc. Though the massive tax credit made national news and received quite a flurry of attention among the social media networks as 2009 drew to a close, a representative from Colorado's Department of Revenue said in an October issue of the Denver Post, that fewer than 10 tax filers were expected to take advantage of the credit, sealing the Tesla Roadster's status as pure luxury.

Nonetheless, more practical cars like the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric car that debuted in November, the Nissan LEAF, an all-electric, zero-emission vehicle currently in Seattle as one of the chosen test markets, and electric cars that are already popular in Europe are making their way to the US; e.g., Daimler's smart ev car (with a range of 70 miles on a charge, 70 mph top speed), and Th!nk city (which can drive 110 miles on a single charge and tops out at 65 mph) are paving the way for more ubiquitous EVs on the road.

To have a look at the current crop of eco-vehicles - the sexy (the Roadster), the rugged (the Jeep - EV?), the fun (MINI EV - I can't wait!), and the Tron-mobile (you'll see...) and vote on your favorites, head on over to Planet Green!


  1. Get one soon, they'll be discontinued in 2011... (or so I've read)...! :-)