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A New Dawn for Electric Cars?

If you've got a hankering to get into the electric vehicle market, now's a good time. The U.S. Department of Energy has marching ordersto dole out billions in stimulus funds to, well, stimulate this emerging market. We've been reporting on one customer in line for those funds: a proposed lithium-ion battery plant in Glendale, Kentucky. But you may have been wondering: OK, so maybe we'll soon have gobs of made-in-the-USA vehicle batteries. But where are the vehicles?Well... there certainly are some electric vehicles on the roads today. There are a few models from Zap Car, but they're really only for tooling around town because they can only go up to 40 miles an hour. Then there's Tesla's sleek $100,000-dollar Roadster, an electric sports car that's fine for the highway and can go more than 200 miles on a single charge. For half the price, you can own Tesla's Model S, an electric Sedan. But neither is available yet, although you can reserve them online. And don't forget the Chevy Volt. The automaker has big plans for its electric car, but it's not out yet either.

So where are the electric cars for the masses? The stars may be aligning for them. Chrysler has just submitted its $400-million-plus plan to the DOE, asking for funding to research and develop electric cars. This comes at a unique moment, a time when most automakers are scrambling to reinvent themselves, or at least get out of bankruptcy. It's also just days after the EPA announced plans to bump up fuel efficiency standards as well as to regulate carbon dioxide like any other pollutant.In part, all of this means that within 5 to 10 years, if you buy a new car, it will almost certainly get more miles to the gallon. And there's a growing chance it could be a hybrid or perhaps even a pure electric vehicle.


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