How will automakers meet Obama’s goal of having 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015? By spending billions of dollars and by getting a smarter system up and running.
At the Frankfurt Autoshow this year, it seemed every car company was showing off a new electric car. Of the major companies, Nissan is the most serious. It’s moving very aggressively, with plans to sell the LEAF, an all electric hatchback by the end of 2010 in a handful of markets.
If the price of oil shoots to the moon in the next three years, as many pundits expect, electric cars will become a pretty attractive option for many drivers. Filling up a car with electrons instead of petroleum will cost considerably less. But, it’s not going to happen overnight. Automakers are convinced drivers will have range anxiety if they drive around in electric cars–that is a fear that the car’s battery will die and leave the driver stranded. There isn’t a quick way to juice up an electric car. So if the energy runs out the driver is in big trouble.
Nissan, and other car makers, will get around this by building software for the car that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. When you get into the car, you’ll map out your route. The car will figure out how far you’re travelling, it will look at your charge and it will tell you if you can make it.
You’ll be able to figure it all out before you even get in the car, actually. Nissan will have applications for your phone that can tell you how juiced your car is before you get in.
Better Place, a car charging company is building similar software. When you get into your car, Better Place will figure out where you’re going, and it will be able to tell you where the charging stations will be along your route. From there you can plan accordingly, and the range anxiety should melt away.
Of course, the won’t happen until there’s a plethora of charging stations available. That’s still five or more years away. So is mass acceptance of electric cars, though.
If Nissan, and the other automakers can time it right, the charging stations and the cars will start popping up on the roads at the same time. California already has a charging corridor from Los Angeles to San Francisco with 5 stations off the highway.
If implemented intelligently, the charging stations combined with software will put way more than 1 million electrics on the roads in the next seven years.
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