RPT-Automakers woo tech enthusiasts to revive electric car sales – Reuters

Posted: Monday, January 04, 2016

(Repeats story sent earlier with no changes in text)

By Joseph White

LAS VEGAS Jan 4 Volkswagen AG and
General Motors Co are expected to disclose new details of
their electric vehicle strategies at the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas this week, highlighting efforts to stoke
consumer enthusiasm for battery-powered cars to match growing
regulatory demands to build them.

Herbert Diess, head of the Volkswagen brand, is expected to
reveal at CES on Tuesday a prototype electric vehicle offering
“affordable long-distance electric mobility,” the company said.
VW watchers expect it will be a variant of a microbus – linking
the German automaker’s plans to launch 20 battery-powered or
plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2020 to a beloved model from the
past.

VW’s redoubled bet on electrification is part of an effort
to repair damage done by revelations that it sold millions of
diesel vehicles worldwide that used software to cheat emissions
tests and run dirty on the road.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, scheduled to give a CES
address on Wednesday afternoon, is expected to promote GM’s
vehicle electrification efforts. Barra is expected to show a
production version of the Chevrolet Bolt electric car, which GM
has said will offer a 200-mile (320-km)range and sell alongside
a new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid starting next year.

However, beyond technology enthusiasts represented by CES
attendees, demand for hybrid and electric vehicles is slumping
thanks to cheap gasoline.

U.S. sales of hybrid and all plug-in electric vehicles
through the first 11 months of 2015 totaled 452,338, down 16
percent from the same period in 2014, according to data reported
by the Electric Drive Transportation Association, a trade group.
Plug-in vehicles accounted for less than 1 percent of the market
during the first 11 months of 2015.

Still, regulators around the world are pushing manufacturers
to sell more electric cars to curb greenhouse emissions.
California and several other U.S. states want automakers to hit
certain electric vehicle sales quotas or risk restrictions on
more profitable trucks and sport utility vehicles. Cities in
Europe and Asia are considering limiting petroleum-powered
vehicle access.

China’s interest in electric cars is encouraging Chinese
investor groups to back challengers to global automakers and
Silicon Valley’s Tesla Motors Inc. One of them, Faraday
Future, said it will reveal its electric luxury car at CES on
Monday evening. Faraday says it has plans to invest $1 billion
in a factory near Las Vegas.

(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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