Power struggles: Charging tomorrow's cars
Automotive News
September 11, 2010


LONDON (Reuters) -- Imagine driving across America using a fuel so new you have to carry your own supply wherever you go.

At the start of the 20th century, before the era of ubiquitous gas stations, drivers did just that as they tested the limits of cars like the Ford Model T, which ran on gasoline, kerosene or ethanol and could, if driven carefully, travel more than 150 miles on a full tank.

Now a new generation of drivers is set to embark on a similar experiment. Until recently, most electric vehicles have had a range of just a few dozen miles, limiting their usefulness and appeal. That is a big reason the long-talked-about era of electric vehicles has been talked about for so long with little real-world progress.

Over the next couple of years, though, tens of thousands of electric cars will hit the laneways of Europe, the streets of the United States, and the gleaming highways of Asia. These new battery-powered vehicles have much longer ranges than their predecessors -- up to 250 miles in the case of the Tesla Roadster, but mostly about 100 miles -- and are likely to be the first to sell in large numbers.

By 2020, says J.D.Power Automotive Forecasting, annual sales of electric vehicles will reach 2 million. Banking giant HSBC is even more optimistic and puts the figure at 9 million. That still falls short of the 61 million gas- and diesel-driven vehicles sold around the world in 2009, but a huge leap from the 5,000 or so EVs sold last year.

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