Electric-Vehicle Acid Test

Will discounts finally persuade the masses to plug in electric cars?

"The electric car is not dead," general motors North America president Mark Reuss insisted at the recent Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. He's right: automakers are introducing more battery-powered vehicles than ever before, a hopeful sign for this promising green technology. Fiat, Cadillac, Ford and Honda are all launching new electric models this year. Sales of the two mainstream plug-ins already on the market are up: GM's Chevy Volt sales tripled in 2012 over the year before, while the Nissan Leaf's rose modestly, by 1.5%.

Why is the auto industry on the defensive? Sales may be rising, but the Leaf...

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