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Electric vehicles are hard to find at the Chicago Auto Show. Next year will be a different story.

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

Audi has a white e-tron SUV on display at the auto show. The all-wheel drive vehicle, which sells for about $75,000, has a range of 204 miles and does 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. It was parked, fittingly, next to an Electrify America charging station at the auto show.

Electrify America, which is also owned by Volkswagen, is investing $2 billion in a nationwide charging network as part of the automaker's massive 2016 settlement with federal and state regulators over its diesel emissions testing scandal. The company expects to have 800 charging stations with about 3,500 chargers in 45 states by the end of next year.

Thacker said even though automakers are gearing up, the consumer side of the equation is "not quite ready to go yet," Thacker said. EV prices will need to come down and the infrastructure needs to be developed for widespread adoption to become a reality.

"Range anxiety is real. People are worried if I have my family in the car and it's the middle of the night and I have five miles left, I want to know that I can pull off the highway and charge my vehicle," he said.

Chevrolet Bolt

Launched in 2017, Chevrolet's all-electric subcompact crossed the 200,000 sales mark last year, which triggers a one-year phase-out of the $7,500 federal tax incentive. Buyers can still get a $1,875 credit through March 31.


The 2020 Bolt, which sells for about $37,000 -- before the tax credit -- has boosted its range by 10% this year to 259 miles on a full charge, making it a more attractive, if utilitarian, EV offering than some its flashier rivals.

In January, there were 3,000 Bolts sold -- its best sales month ever, according to Chevrolet spokesman Steve Majoris.

"The reality is, Bolt EV was the first to crack the code on range and cost, and continues to do that," Marjoris said. "Other entries have come into the marketplace, but the Bolt EV still has the most range -- with the exception of a high-performance Tesla Model 3."

Majoris said the resurgent success of the Bolt is "just a precursor" to new EVs in the pipeline from Chevrolet and GM, including the rebirth of the Hummer nameplate-- once the embodiment of a gas-guzzling behemoth -- as GMC's first all-electric truck. The Hummer, which will be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, was teased in a Super Bowl spot, with plans to reveal the vehicle in May.


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