Industry giants start the EV revolution.
Steven Andersen is a Fortnightly contributor based in New York.
Who killed the electric car? Well, as it turns out, the body never was found.
A lot has happened in the four years since a biting documentary film lamented the electric vehicle’s (EV) demise. Automakers and utilities have launched an unprecedented collaboration—to build and market a car that will never visit a gas station. Later this year the first mass-market, fully electric car—the Nissan Leaf—rolls onto showroom floors. Many other models will follow.
“We are definitely at the tipping point,” says Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan. “The question is whether it will be a gradual or a rapid transition, and I don’t know if anybody really knows that answer.” In some regions, utilities expect rapid growth in EV sales.
“Our mid- to high-case range is 100,000 to 200,000 cars by 2015,” says Ted Craver, CEO of Southern California Edison. “By 2020 we’re looking at between 450,000 and 1 million cars—and this just covers our service territory.”
It’s difficult to overstate the impact on the nation’s utilities of tens of millions of EVs—each one a roving reservoir of stored electric power.