Some good comments. I agree that while EV's look appealing on the surface, there are some deeper issues that need solutions before they become practical:
1. Foremost - until the power grid is converted to renewable sources, adding EV's doesn't help our energy situation much. Today power is made from ~50% coal and ~25% natural gas. So plugging-in EV's just changes our fossil fuel needs from gasoline to these, and CO2 is not reduced either. Once power is green - then EV's become green. We need to focus on step #1.
2. As mentioned by others - EV's are not yet cost effective due to high battery cost and weight, and recharge time and range are big limitations. In the near-term, biofuels (net zero CO2) are probably a better energy solution, and run them in today's car technology (but make the cars much more efficient via streamlining and low weight). The infastructure doesn't have to change - we would still have gas stations, etc. Decades later, when batteries are better, the smartgrid exists and can manage massive recharging profiles and most important - power generation is from renewables - EV's will be great! Not a panacea today, however. I'm perplexed by the huge government push to get EV's on the road at any cost.
Looking at the specs for the Nissan Leaf for instance at supposedly about $32K or about $25K after the $7,500 federal tax credit, we're getting closer to an economically viable "second" or "third" car for a multicar family (and there are a lot of those out there) that doesn't necessary need all of their vehicles to have long range capability.
Electric cars, like the Leaf, in the near future will be more reliable, require less maintenance, and will be cheaper to operate per mile traveled than ICE powered vehicles. I think even today's technology as represented by the Leaf would be acceptable to many peoples needs if the price can come down another several thousand dollars.
Not to put too much of a damper on your enthusiasm for electric cars, but right now electric cars are a waste of money. The Chevy Volt is $40K and performs like a Cobalt. For all that, it gets only 40 miles on a charge. Electric cars still need some major technological breakthroughs to compete with our good old gas powered engines. If a car can go 200 miles on a charge (or even 100) and only cost a $2-5K premium vs. a regular car, then you'll see people wanting to buy them. Until then, go ahead and spend your money on them, but the government should not.
I agree its inevitable, and all the pieces are falling into place.The electric vehicle and the charging network are both needed together. If Ford teams up with utilities to install fast charge stations,so you can recharge for your commute home and at any lunch stop along the interstate,we'll see a transformation, jobs, and real national progress.
With 85,000 miles under my belt on my Honda Civic Hybrid and a lifetime average of better than 50 mpg, I can't wait to get my hands on a next generation plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that runs on 100% battery locally. Having a cost effective means to get charging units installed in the house (quick permits, simple installation) are essential to make the total cost of ownership affordable.
I think to make Electric cars as popular as the petrol cars is to have charge refilling instead of recharging.
Instead of building quick-charge stations all across if we provide Battery replacement stations it will be more convenient for the car owners. The time taken for a battery replacement can be as small as the one required to fill the petrol tank at a petrol pump. ( of course it needs a portable battery arrangement in the cars)
The electric car owner need not buy the battery set at the time of purchasing the vehicle. he just rents a fully charged battery pack at a fraction of the total cost and keeps on replacing it with another one when the pack needs recharging. he does not waste time in recharging, does not have to worry about the warranty period, battery life etc. This can also reduce the initial cost of Electric Car which is currently much higher than the cost of a similar capacity Petrol or Diesel car.
EVs have a place: as a short-trip urban vehicle _alongside_ an IC or Hybrid vehicle that has more traditional capacity/range/size parameters. and that's the problem, really: EVs seem to either be glorified golf carts (limited to parking-lot speeds), or else trying to be normal vehicles. the latter would be great, except that to compete, they move into an impractical price range. I'd LOVE to be able to get an EV for $10k that seats 1-2 with a range of 50 km at 60 kmph...
As the number of cars hitting on the roads of India is increasing everyday, so as the increase in demand for fuel and moreover growing environmental concerns, popularity of electric car is a essential need of the hour. There is a company in India who started this effort long back, sells two-seat electric car with a brand name "Reva". This is not so popular for various reasons including the factors such as look, size etc. But I feel the main concern was about the lack of infrastructure for charging stations. But things are now improving. Like Ford & PGE, many others are planning to launch electric car in next couple of years. GM is developing an electric car thinking about the market in India. Reva is also going to launch two new four-seat, three doors models: Reva Nxr scheduled for production in 2011 & Reva Nxg scheduled for production in 2012. The link for Reva: www.revaglobal.com