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How Consumers and Federal Stimulus Might Revitalize the Electric Car

The return of the electric car to the United States can perhaps be lauded as one of the Obama administration’s successes; the rebirth of the electric car here—and it is a rebirth—is well under way. While the first electric cars were on the roads right alongside the first gasoline cars, only now are they regaining some sort of prominence, and it’s largely due to the federal stimulus package.

This Started in the 90s

California was the first state to try to put electric cars on the road; in the mid-90s, after state laws demanded zero-emissions vehicles. But since gas was still cheap (remember gas prices in the 90s? I do), no one wanted an electric car for all the same reasons that skeptics spout today, without the high price of gas as a counter-argument. Fast-forward to 2007, which saw steeply increased gas prices paired with federal policy mandating stricter fuel efficiency standards.

At this point, the only American company making an electric car was Tesla—and while the Roadster just oozes cool, its price is well out of range for the average driver. But with $2 billion in federal grants and a matching amount from private investment, the field was open for other automakers and parts suppliers to come play.
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