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US EV Market Full Of Spark

The US market for all-electric cars is charging up, with plug-in vehicles rolling off US dealer lots despite much higher costs, battery fire scares and falling gasoline prices.

Plug-in cars racked up strong sales in the first six months of the year, automakers said, even with their tall sticker prices and lifetime operating costs up to $6,000 more than conventional gasoline-run vehicles.

Buyers appear unhindered by signs warning that electric vehicles might have a downside despite reports of battery fires that have already hampered the launches of the Volt, Karma and models from BYD, the Chinese company aiming at an exclusively electric vehicle business.

Those worries are being addressed, builders say, and battery specialists are improving their fuel cell technology. A123 Systems of Massachusetts recently disclosed it had come up with a technology to eliminate the threat of fire in high-tech lithium batteries.

The issue of cost, where electric vehicles are expensive compared to their internal-combustion engine cousins also has not seemed to faze consumers, even amidst news that gas prices have fallen. According to a new study by the Paris-based International Transport Forum, electric passenger cars currently cost $5,000 to $6,000 more to their owners than an equivalent fossil fuel car over the vehicle’s lifetime.

Nonetheless, the demand for electrics keeps rising, as buyers are getting more choice and the technology is improving.

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