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I reported today on safety concerns about using lithium-ion batteries in the TR article ”Are Lithium-Ion Electric Cars Safe?” Here are a couple of comments I want to add:

First, the article is not an argument against electric cars. Just the opposite. It does point out why further development of safer materials is a good idea in the long run, and that we need very careful manufacturing oversight now. But I emphasize this aspect in part because if battery electric vehicles stand a chance of succeeding – especially in the face of strong political support for the much more problematic idea of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – they will need a spotless record. A serious accident now could give battery electric vehicles a bad name and shake consumer confidence.

Second, no vehicle is completely safe, of course; gasoline-powered cars have burst into flame. In the article I point out that batteries come with their own particular safety concerns, the chief one being a need for very high-quality manufacturing.

In all, this is an exciting time for batteries and battery-electric vehicles. Toyota’s plans to build a plug-in hybrid and Tesla Motors’ new sports car could be strong steps toward the mass-production of electric cars. – By Kevin Bullis

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