Newswise — “Electric vehicles are a big, expensive gamble. The Toyota Prius only became feasible after hundreds of billions of yen were used to entice sales in Japan. Huge subsidies in Japan spurred Prius sales and helped spread production costs over larger numbers of vehicles. I do not think the appetite for large, long-term subsidies exists in Congress these days.
“Today, Fiat does not have the cash to gamble on electrics with little or no experience in the field. GM has been working on electric vehicles for decades with poor results. The Chevrolet Volt is a gamble but has a gasoline engine for back up. The biggest reason for Chrysler not jumping into electric vehicles is lack of cash. Nissan is a small player in the United States and wants to raise its profile by having a ‘Halo Vehicle’ that entices buyers into the showroom, but the Nissan Leaf is a $32,000 toy with limited range.
“Advertising hype, plus large state and federal initiatives will add a spark to electric car sales, but the battery-powered technology that successfully rolls out on future roads will largely depend on competing automakers’ technological skills and financial resources.”
--Arthur Wheaton, senior extension associate at Cornell University’s ILR School