November 13, 2012 / 2:58 AM / 7 years ago

Obama win should fuel electric car production, says Tesla CEO

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The re-election of President Barack Obama will likely mean a continuation of the U.S. government’s policy promoting electric and hybrid vehicles, Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O), said on Monday.

“I think that we can expect at least that things will continue as they have,” Musk told reporters at an event in New York. “I wouldn’t expect it to get any worse for electric vehicles, hopefully it will get a little better.”

Musk also said he would back any effort to boost federal tax credits for electric cars to as much as $10,000. He also said the company would install fast-charging stations on major routes throughout the United States by the end of next year.

Obama has said he would like one million plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric cars and pure electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, a target that many analysts view as unrealistic given high EV prices and the lack of charging infrastructure.

Tesla’s electric car, the Model S, costs between $49,900 to $69,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. On Monday, the car won Motor Trend magazine’s 2013 “Car of the Year.”

Next year, the bulk of Tesla’s engineering will be devoted to the Model X, a crossover utility vehicle that will be rolled out in 2014. Tesla is also about to begin designing its third-generation car, a mass-market car that will cost around $30,000.

“We’ve got to stay the course, ramp up production, we’ve got to start making the next generation of vehicles affordable,” he said during an event to announce the Motor Trend award.

Tesla received a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy in early 2010, under the same program that provided federal loans to Ford Motor Co and Fisker Automotive to develop green cars and advanced batteries, as well as create jobs.

But slow sales of electric cars even with the federal tax credit have cast doubt on the program. Musk said in the long-term Tesla’s sales would probably be evenly divided between Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Tesla is considering installing “superchargers” at hotels to address the spotty access to car charging stations in the United States. By the end of next year, Tesla expects all major routes in the United States will have access to superchargers that replenish electric car battery within 30 minutes. Washington D.C. and Boston will be covered within the next month, he said.

Reporting By Phil Wahba; writing by Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; Editing by Michael Perry

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