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Electric-Car Makers Struggle Companies Face


By Joseph B. White
Wall Street Journal
December 8, 2008


The heads of the struggling Detroit auto makers aren't the only car makers
looking for help from Washington. The electric vehicle industry has its hands out, too.

If anything, representatives of the electric and electrified vehicle business
jumped ahead of the "legacy" auto industry in the transportation bailout queue
that formed in the nation's capital last week. A conference sponsored by the
Electric Drive Transportation Association attracted a crowd of electric vehicle
manufacturers and their boosters to Washington's convention center during the
first half of the week. Officials from the Department of Energy on Monday
presented tips to attendees on how electric vehicle companies could apply for
federal loans. The CEOs of the legacy car industry General Motors Corp., Ford
Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC -- didn't get to town with their begging bowls until
Thursday.

The Future of Electric Vehicles

3:13

Joseph White talks with Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive
Transportation Association, about government support, research and development
and the cost of driving electric vehicles. (Dec. 7)The electric-vehicle industry
positions itself as the future of personal transportation. President-elect
Barack Obama is now the industry's highest ranking advocate. He's said he wants
to see one million plug-in vehicles by 2015, as part of his broader goal to end
U.S. dependence on Mideast oil.

But right now, the electric-vehicle community has a lot of the same problems as
the legacy car business, and a few more besides. Brian Wynne, the head of the
EDTA, says manufacturers in his group need the government's help now.
"We have a gap," he says. "We need to get over this gap."

The credit crunch and the economic slump are slamming the crop of
electric-vehicle companies that sprung up in recent years, fueled in part by
Silicon Valley venture-capital money.

 

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