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How to make electric cars more useful

Lots of ideas to widen the appeal of EVs

How can niche vehicles such as all-electrics and plug-in hybrids reach a wider audience? To find a market beyond early adopters, electric-car drivers need a safety net. And automakers at this week’s Plug-in 2013 event in San Diego are trying lots of different approaches:

Tesla (who is not here) builds cars that go 200 miles between charges. A study of BMW Mini-E lessees showed that consumers say a range of 150 to 180 miles would be “ideal.”
Nissan is joining several states and public-private partnerships (as well as Tesla) in building fast chargers across the country. These may have the advantage of expanding the market for electric cars to those living in apartments and condominiums and don’t always have access to outlets outside of their dwelling. And automakers believe that this may help create a market for used electric cars.
The BMW i3 and Cadillac ELR will soon join the ranks of the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Plug-In in the family of plug-in hybrids with range extenders, or gas engines that work as generators to provide more electricity for longer trips.



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