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Electric-Vehicle Sales Move Out of First Gear
CNBC.com | November 11, 2011 | 04:26 PM EST

Plug-in EVs run on electricity as an input fuel, unlike hybrids like the Toyota Prius, which extend the range of a gas-powered car by generating electricity on the fly.

GM says some of the launch issue centered around work on the Volt’s assembly line, but the auto maker still expects sales to rise.

“There is no demand issue; ask any dealer in a launch market," says GM’s Volt program spokesman, Rob Peterson. “This is a temporary situation.”

With a premium price tag, Pike’s Gartner says the rough economy is hurting EV sales.

But Green Alpha’s Jabusch adds that it’s the model mix available today that’s holding the sector back.

“Economic conditions certainly don't help, but overall the Volt suffers from being a sub-par entry into a very competitive market,” he says, citing the Volt’s relatively poor gas mileage when it burns gasoline compared to other gas-powered cars in its category.

“A good indicator of this is the secondary market,” he says. “Used sales of the Volt are already at only approximately 40 percent of retail [price] — the [hybrid] Toyota Prius is approximately 50 percent to 53 percent — reflecting poor residual value for still relatively new cars.”

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