Electric companies need upgrades for plug-in cars
13, 2010 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Brent Snavely Detroit Free Press
America's neighborhoods to handle the additional power load that electric vehicles
are expected to require is among the challenges facing the utility and automotive
industries as plug-in electric vehicles are introduced, DTE Energy Chairman Tony
Early said today.
Almost every major automaker plans to introduce an electric
car over the next three years even though many questions about the technology
Early said nation's power plants and major power lines are capable
of providing adequate electricity to meet the additional demand that plug-in electric
vehicles for the foreseeable future. But in many cases, the power lines in neighborhoods
will need to be upgraded.
With most plug-in electric vehicles expected
to cost $40,000 or more, "We can pretty much guess what neighborhoods are going
to buy these vehicles. It's going to be upper end neighborhoods," Early said during
a panel discussion on electric vehicles in Detroit hosted by Inforum.
means that the owners of plug-in electric vehicles will live in concentrated areas.
And so the local infrastructure will really be a challenge," Early said.
"You will see breakers trip and you will see transformers burn out."
addition to that challenge, panelists from GM, Chrysler and Ford acknowledged
that many other challenges exist, including finding ways to reduce the cost of
the lithium-ion batteries that will power electric vehicles and the need for common
standards for the size of the plug.
Still, a consensus emerged among panelists
that all of those problems can be solved.
In fact, this year General Motors
plans to introduce the extended-range Chevrolet Volt and Ford Motor plans to introduce
an electric version of its Transit Connect commercial van.
about $700 million in eight different facilities to support the Volt alone, including
our battery assembly plant in Brownstown," said Michael Robinson, vice president
for environment, energy and safety for GM.
"This is an idea whose time
has come and the technology is emerging to match it," Early said.
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