PRAGUE – For decades, the idea of the electric car has captured the imaginations of innovators – including Henry Ford and Thomas Edison more than a century ago. Celebrities, pundits, and political leaders alike have cast these vehicles as the apotheosis of an environmentally responsible future. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proclaimed that there will be a million electric cars on the Autobahn by 2020. President Barack Obama has likewise promised a million electric cars in the United States – but five years sooner.
Someday, the electric car will, indeed, be a great product – just not now. It costs too much; it is inconvenient; and its environmental benefits are negligible (and, in some cases, non-existent).