Maybe my transportation needs are different from most peoples but I sitll think that what we really need is not an affordable (whatever that means) long range EV, but an affordable (in just as cheap as the gasoline equivalent) shorter range EV.
There are many people out there who simply don't need a 200 mile range vehicle. To me the solution is to make it lighter weight and cheaper primarily by making the battery smaller. We can argue about optimim range for a "city car", but 75 miles would be plenty for many people - IF car companies could make it just a cheap as the typical small gas powererd car it would compete with I think you would see a market for them.
Having a low cost, low maintenance vehicle that never has to go to a gas station would appeal to many. And people will pay for convenience. For people in urban areas their commute to a gas station can be farther than their commute to work. Gas stations are starting to disappear from many urban areas because of the high costs of real estate. In some places now finding a gas station and waiting for your turn in line and then getting out and pumping smelly gasoline (sometimes in inclement weather) is becoming a major hurdle - especially during rush hour when many people decide it's time for them to refuel. The ability to just drive home and plug in your car (maybe in a nice warm garage) would be much more convenient.
@Janine, (and Frank, thanks for recalling the article I posted a fe weeks ago), here is some data provided by Climate Central:
"EVs Are Environmentally Friendly?: True or False?"
I had exact the same question as you do. What worse is, recent study suggested, manufacturing an EV may consume a bigger carbon footprint than running a gasoline operated vehicle because of material of choice. Nonetheless, solar, wind and hydro will no doubt become the energy of the future for various reasons. EV will certainly be the only choice. Now, we may argue EV may not be as friendly as regular vehicle. Without you knowing, EV may be the only choice in the near future.
@JanineLove: to a large extent, you are correct, we are mostly trading one problem for another. A truly renewable source of energy (Solar & Wind for now) when used to charge EV's can further enhance the green-ness of EVs. But there is also a large component of materials used in the operation of EV's are not efficiently recovered (like Li Ion batteries) so the problem compounds.
It's no accident that automakers are looking beyond the knee-jerk battery storage solution, for EVs. I agree that EVEN IF the range is extended to where the hype says, which if it holds true at all, it's only under the most ideal conditions of 73 degree F days, level roads, and light breezes, the time to recharge is a still a big obstacle.
We need to get some press coverage of more credible alternatives, so people can move beyond just the battery-electric solution.
Yes, it depends where you live. EETimes had a story not long ago -- with a link to an article in another publication -- about the equivalent mpg of EVs in each of the 50 states, which varied depending upon the means by which electricity was generated in those states. Some with lots of hydo & nuclear power, like Vermont, had huge numbers, upwards of 2000 mpg. Others, where coal was more dominant, had much smaller numbers.
The point has also been made about the inadequacies about the transmission infrastructure. I remember reading that during the big east coast heat wave this summer, a wind energy farm in the northeast was directed to turn down its output -- at a time when electricity demand was the highest -- because the transmission infrastructure couldn't handle it.
Still, there are those who have successfully argued, with supporting data, that even with today's electricity generation methods & aging distribution infrastructure, that EVs are still more efficient than gasoline combustion engine vehicles.
As GM and Ford not producing gasoline, EV batteries should be made by battery manufacturers with open interface, mounting styles and charging standard. They will push battery evolution much better than the effort from each individual EV maker.
One standardization example is the EV charging interface, by nature the interface should be DC and leave the AC capacity and PFC issues to outside commercial/home charging station.
Another standardization example is the battery safety. We know Li-ion battery could explode under impact. A bottom mounted style (such as in Tesla) should not be allowed, because an explosion by bottom impact could cause casualty for people in car. The bottom impact is rare, but very possible when a car run off the road.
Depends on where you live. Hydro and wind are more than capable of supplying energy for many areas. Unfortunately, we don't have great ways to transport that power to areas that don't have access (from what I'm told).