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Price, Infrastructure Identified as Key Challenges at Electric Car Conference

The U.S. electric utility industry says it is committed to helping overcome any obstacles to making the widespread use of electric vehicles a reality. The Detroit Free Press, reporting on the Business of Plugging In conference, says the two main challenges to widespread use of electric vehicles are the need for a wide network of plug-in stations and a price point that many car buyers will resist. "We need to have a national infrastructure so as you drive across the country, you are comfortable that your vehicle will be supported," said Tony Earley, chair of DTE Energy and the Edison Electric Institute, quoted in the Free Press. "A lot of utilities have been doing work in this area, but now we have the whole industry committed to a nationwide effort." The New York Times reports that in addition to concerns about the number of plug-in stations, utilities must deal with potential overloads of the electrical systems as more plug-in cars are used. "The last thing you want is millions of electric vehicles plugged in at 5:00 on a hot summer afternoon when the grid is already being taxes," he said, quoted in The Times. Richard Curtin, a University of Michigan professor, pointed to the additional $10,000 cost of an electric car over a comparable combustion engine vehicle. "I can tell you there is widespread interest in plug-ins, as well as widespread resistance to the cost," he said, quoted in the Free Press. The conference was attended by top executives of General Motors, Ford, and other auto companies, along with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, executives from several utility companies, and academic experts.

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