Thursday, March 07, 2013

Energy storage: Difference Engine: Air apparent

DESPITE their excellent fuel economy, squeaky-clean exhausts and generous government subsidies, electric vehicles have failed to catch on with the motoring public. Fewer than 10,000 pure electrics (less than 0.1% of new-car sales) trickled onto the roads of America in 2012. And that was their best year ever.

Customers continue to be put off by a not unreasonable fear of being stranded by the roadside when the vehicle’s battery pack goes flat, miles from home or the nearest recharging station. Fully charged, pure electrics have a range of typically 75 miles (120km) or so—though Tesla’s $90,000 top-of-the-range Model S, with its 85 kilowatt-hour battery, can officially clock 265 miles on a single charge.

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