Electric cars make appearances at auto show

February 15, 2010 4:40:19 AM PST
The 2010 Chicago Auto Show is off and running at McCormick Place, and in this era of recalls and environmental sensitivity, a lot of consumers want to see what's being offered in electric cars-- not hybrids, but cars that actually run on electricity all the time. There aren't a lot of choices yet, but 2010 is the year when consumers are promised that is going to change.

So, ABC7 went to take a look.

General Motors has been talking about the Chevy Volt since at least 2007. The world's former number one car company wants the car in showrooms by the end of the year.

GM North America President Mark Reuss said getting it right is more important than getting to market first.

The Colt will go for about $ 40,000, but federal subsidies could knock as much as $7,500 off that price.

It's a bonus that presumably won't be as important to buyers of the Fisker Karma, the first salon-styled sports car that is all electric. An overnight charge on a household 110-volt will take a driver 50 miles, less than what 70 percent of Americans drive daily.

"The possibility was there to have something that combined sensuality with environmental. So, combine the two, and this is what we have," said Magdalena Figueroa of Fisker Automotive.

Starting at $87,900, the car obviously isn't for everyone. But for those interested in the symbolism of what they drive, it's a car worth dreaming about.

"It looks great. I think instantly people are going to know "A," you've got money and "B," you care about the environment, and that is a statement. People make statements with their cars," car enthusiast John Kulika said.

The Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid that is having recall issues over the software controlling its braking, will have competition.

Ford is showcasing its first electric vehicle, one of four Ford is going to bring out over the next few years. It's a transit vehicle used for city and commercial applications. The company is going to start selling it at the end of the year, and it is all electric. But ABC7 is told it goes a lot faster than a golf cart.

Many consumers at the auto show want more electric choices, but in this time of economic belt-tightening, it has to make sense.

"If a car costs two or three times as much, it wouldn't be economically sound to buy it because you would never make the money back. Granted, I would like to do more for the environment, but I've got to watch my own money, too," said Jason Tharp, a prospective vehicle buyer.

In 2008, Chrylsler shocked the auto world when it said by 2010, it would have three electric vehicles, including a version of its ever-popular minivan, the Town and Country. There was no sign of it at the show, however. It probably would have been a popular attraction for many families.