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There's No Rush To Plug In

The numbers just don't add up to support rapid adoption of electric vehicles.

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Now that electric vehicles are sold in the United States by both established automakers and startups, we thought it would be interesting to look at possible adoption rates by domestic consumers. Over time, the volume of these vehicles should increase as conventional fossil fuels become harder to find and the U.S. government ups its corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE). However, there are other alternative powertrain technologies, such as hybrids, that enjoy advantages over pure electric vehicles. It is also critical to remember that internal combustion vehicles enjoy fuel economy that in some cases is not far behind the Toyota Prius.

Thus far, the only pure electric vehicle (EV) sold in the U.S. by the major auto manufacturers is the  Nissan (NSANY) LEAF, introduced in December 2010. For LEAF owners, the car's sole reliance on a battery means a driver must have access to recharging facilities both at home and on the road. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, there will be 13,000 public charging stations in America by the end of this year versus about 106,000 gas stations. A pure EV like the LEAF, in our opinion, mostly appeals to hardcore environmentalists and tech early adopters, most of whom live on the West Coast.

David Whiston does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.