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Prospects for Electric Cars

Prospects For Electric Cars

--Hans Wagner

Speculation on the prospects for electric cars and their impact on the world’s economies make for interesting chatter. As China, the U.S. and European governments step up their stimulus programs to encourage electrification of vehicles, investors are starting to take notice. The question is which industries offer the best investing opportunity.

The Tesla Motors Roadster is expected to deliver 200 to 240 miles per charge, depending on driving conditions and usage. According to General Motors, the Chevrolet Volt, when it finally hits the showrooms, will get 40 miles between charges. The difference is due to the size of the batteries used to power the car. In the Tesla’s case there are more batteries installed on the car, as it depends only on battery power. The Volt will have a small gasoline engine to help recharge the batteries beyond the 40-mile limit. Other hybrid-eclectic vehicles such as the Toyota Prius also use a small gasoline engines to help charge the battery and in some cases add power to the wheels when necessary. The electric cars can be recharged by plugging the car into the power grid using a special adaptor, though some can be charged through the standard household electric outlet.

China has set a goal of producing half-a-million electric cars annually by 2011. To help stimulate this goal they have announced they are investing $1.4 billion in R&D. The United States has committed $2 billion in stimulus spending to help design and manufacture better batteries. Vehicle manufacturers are receiving help to the tune of $25 billion form the U.S. government to retool their production lines so they can produce larger number of fuel-efficient vehicles, including electric ones.

As more electrified cars and trucks move to the mainstream, they will require some significant changes in several industries if they are to be commercially successful. While some people may believe the move to electric cars is a long way off, the current drive by several major governments should not be ignored. The power trains, battery, and utility industries will each see investing opportunities.


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