Ecotality’s innovation chief discusses everything from the issue of sluggish U.S. demand for E.V.’s and how the Solyndra fallout has affected its business.
It’s been a rough spell for electric cars, with automakers abandoning sales targets amid tepid demand, and Congressional Republicans trying to turn struggling battery and electric-car manufacturers into symbols of failed clean economy policies.
But that hasn’t stopped Ecotality, a maker of charging equipment and the largest single grantee in the Energy Department’s Vehicle Technologies Program, from pressing ahead with plans to install 14,000 electric vehicle charging stations in cities across the country. The company, backed by $115 million in stimulus money, is nearly halfway to that goal. So far, it has put 5,800 chargers in home garages and public parking lots as part of its three-year-old EV Project.
But charging infrastructure is only half the battle; consumer acceptance is the other half. And while the number of charging companies and stations is proliferating—Pike Research forecasts 13,000 chargers by the end of the year and 1.5 million by 2017—there are just about 20,000 electric cars on U.S. roads.