Rational people have long argued that electric and hybrid cars must actually compete with "normal" cars in order to succeed. And that means without government subsidies, special fuel taxes, etc.
Now, despite all those billions in taxpayer subsidies and a string of debacles, it looks like the electric car train is coming to an end.
A123 is toast. Fisker is toast. Tesla is done for. All these hyped battery and superduperhypercapacitor companies are running aground, on the hard ground of a simple reality: gasoline/diesel are far, far, far better energy storage media than anything else. It is not even close.
In the meantime, conventional car companies have continued to optimize. 65-75 mpg internal combustion engine vehicles are now in the mainstream (from Volkswagen and others). To really show how far the industry has come, a recent TopGear shows a normal BMW 3-series consumes LESS fuel than a Prius on the same track and the same time.
The upshot is that the industry is falling back: it will adopt only those technologies that pay. Start-stop technologies work. Perhaps a series hybrid will pay, if the system is simple enough. But pure electric or "plug in" cars? Future generations will point to this era, along with the fuel celled car, tulip mania, the dotcom frenzy, and so many others, as another example of how smart people can close their eyes to simple fundamentals, and in so doing, lose their shirts.
The sooner the government figures this out and throws in the towel, the less money will be poured down this guaranteed rathole. And all those smart engineers can get to work doing things that might just work.
Alas, if "Global Warming" is any indicator, these government R&D payments will continue to drain the energies of intelligent people for the rest of human existence. What a blight. Is it any wonder that we only see innovation when the government is not footing the bill?