200-mile electric cars will be another nail in coffin of gasoline engine cars

The electric-car era may hit in 2017 when at least two battery-powered cars that can attain 200 miles of driving range and cost less than $40,000 enter the market.

In addition to Tesla Motors Inc. TSLA's forthcoming Model 3, a leading battery maker says it is preparing a pack for an electric car that extends the range of most vehicles on the road today, but at a similar price.

"We are definitely working on making a 200-mile-range battery electric vehicle at around the $30,000 to $35,000 price target," said Prabhakar Patil, chief executive of LG Chem Power Inc., a U.S.-based research arm of the South Korean battery company.

"It's more than a possibility. We feel we will be able to support such a vehicle around the 2017 time frame." He said more than one auto maker is interested in the technology, although he declined to say which ones.

GM, which contracts with LG Chem to supply the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, has said it plans to introduce a 200-mile-range electric vehicle starting as low as $30,000.

A GM official said the project is on track, although he declined to offer details on the timing. Former CEO Dan Akerson first mentioned the vehicle last year.

The two electric cars GM currently offers—the Volt and Spark—get fewer than 85 miles in range on a single charge. The all-electric Spark gets 82 miles on a charge, while the Volt hybrid gets 38 miles. GM said last week that it will introduce a fully redesigned Volt in 2015. It first introduced the model in late 2010.

The effort to produce a long-range electric vehicle shows the outsize impact that Tesla has had on the global automotive industry. When it announced that it was making a third-generation vehicle to come out in 2017 with a 200-mile range and a starting price of $35,000, many experts were skeptical it was possible because there appeared to be a lack of breakthroughs on this technology to improve range or lower costs.

Tesla alone has offered long-range electric vehicles and has been able to command a premium for them. Deutsche Bank upgraded Tesla's shares Monday on its capability to produce more vehicles, sending the stock to near record highs. Wall Street Journal

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