Oil Prices Pumping Up Electric Car Interest

As oil prices head up and battery costs come down, the price difference between gasoline cars and electric ones is narrowing.

Published: 17-Apr-2011

When oil hit a record price of $147 a barrel in July 2008, it was a game-changing moment that sparked a serious push to create electric cars and hybrid electric engines that could help wean Americans off oil. Today, crude is back over $100 a barrel and the payoff is the first generation of mass-produced electric cars rolling off production lines.

Interest in electric vehicles has ebbed and flowed with the price of oil over the past three decades, but something new is clearly afoot. General Motors and Nissan already have electric cars on the streets of major U.S. cities, and intensified battery research is bringing down costs.

In 2005, there were no makers of lithium-ion batteries in the United States. Now, more than half a dozen battery plants are open or near completion, thanks in part to $2.4 billion in co-investment from the federal government.

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