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Electric Vehicles Are in the Spotlight at Detroit’s Auto Show

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“Now I can park on the street and charge up, and anyone else in the neighborhood who has a Tesla can, too,” Mr. Torrella said.

Charging time is another issue. Even Tesla’s Superchargers require 40 minutes to provide an 80 percent charge. Doing the trick at home is generally an overnight job.

Automakers are trying to address those challenges. G.M., Nissan, Volkswagen and others are working with partners to install more chargers. They are getting help from Electrify America, a company that Volkswagen funded as part of its agreement to settle lawsuits over its deception on diesel emissions. With a budget of $2 billion, Electrify America is aiming to install an initial wave of 600 chargers at gas stations, and 1,500 at office parks and apartment buildings. Three more waves are to follow.

But even so, Electrify America’s network will probably provide only 10 percent of the country’s charging needs by 2021, the company’s chief executive, Giovanni Palazzo, said at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

“We can’t make it happen on our own,” he said. “We need more players.”

Electrify America is also hoping to install 350-kilowatt chargers within the next few years, which in theory could provide a full charge in about 15 minutes. About 80 percent of the chargers currently installed use 120 kilowatts, Mr. Palazzo said.

One advantage that automakers are counting on is the wider variety of cars they will bring to the market. The Model 3, the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf are all small cars, a type of vehicle that fewer Americans are buying. Like Ford, Nissan is working on a roomier, S.U.V.-like model that it thinks will have wider appeal.

“There’s not a lot of variety right now, but as more vehicles come up in the small and midsize S.U.V. body styles, it will bring in more people,” said Brian Maragno, Nissan’s director of E.V. sales and marketing strategy. “The market, in just a couple of years, is going to look very different.”


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