Investor Alert – Forget 2012. The Electric Vehicle Revolution Will Reach the United States in 2009

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Forget that General Motors says it will have to push hard to have a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle ready for market by 2010. Forget that Toyota is having trouble developing a lithium-ion battery for its plug-in models. The electric vehicle revolution will officially arrive in the United States in 2009, three years sooner than even advocates believed possible just two years ago, thanks to still unknown (in the U.S.) European and Chinese car companies that see the shockingly-high price of gasoline as their ticket to the big time.

Last week’s announcement by savvy venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that one of its portfolio companies, Think Global of Norway, hopes to sell as many as 50,000 of its all-electric vehicles in the U.S. in two to three years should be considered the tipping point. Think Global will join equally ambitious BYD Company Ltd. of Hong Kong, plus British electric truck manufacturer Smith Vehicles (a unit of Tanfield Group PLC), plus at least one or two other firms concentrating on high-end electric sports cars, in what should coalesce into a consumer wave of electric car buying in the face of astronomically high U.S. gasoline prices. This should force the hands of major car manufacturers, led by Nissan Motor, who as early as this summer may announce plans to market electric vehicles of their own, so that by 2010 Americans could have a wide range of all-electric vehicles from which to choose.

To be sure, problems associated with electric vehicles (such as battery reliability) will be highlighted in the media, probably with the help of experts and organizations aligned with the oil industry, which sees electric cars as a threat to its stranglehold on transportation fuel marketing. But unless pump prices miraculously come down (something Big Oil may wish it can do, but can’t), electric vehicles will be everywhere but especially on the streets of major U.S. cities.

In addition to the companies named above, investors might want to take a look at a Canadian company, Zenn Motor Co. Known mostly for its association with the secretive firm EE Stor, which is developing a potentially game-changing car engine using ultracapacitors, Zenn, whose smallish vehicles are designed to travel at no more than about 25 miles per hour, could find its vehicles in high demand. As a recent Gannett News Service article put it, “As people become more concerned about high gasoline prices and the effects of global warming, low-speed vehicles, also called neighborhood electric vehicles, are an attractive alternative for some environmentally conscious individuals.”

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