Green news for families – Tesla plans all-electric SUV

In Los Angeles this week, Tesla made an announcement that all green-friendly families will enjoy — a new, all-electric, seven passenger sport utility vehicle is on its way. The pioneering electric car manufacturer for the luxury segment will base the family friendly e-van on the same platform as the Tesla S sedan model that is due out in mid-2012.

This new electric model is bound to create a stir, not just because it’s electric, but because of its wings. Tesla’s designers took a big step forward by going back in time to replicate the “Gull Wings” of the DeLorean DMC-12 from the 1980s. Tesla prefers to call them “Falcon Wings.”

Whatever bird you want to call them, the wings look pretty cool and are sure to draw attention from the carpool crowd.

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The talk around the Chicago Auto Show is once again centering on the benefits of electric vehicles. There’s the fuel savings, of course, by not having to purchase gasoline at ever-fluctuating rates; and the environmental benefits are certainly palpable when you consider the lack of emissions for electric vehicles.

But the drawbacks of e-cars are also at issue. Battery safety and lifespan are evolving technologies and often leave potential customers contentedly on the sidelines until proven systems are available.

The vehicle’s range is another concern for customers who are not accustomed to “filling up” at shopping malls and public parking lots rather than gas stations on every corner.

It’s this last concern — “Range Anxiety and searching for e-charging stations — that the Chicago Tribune focuses on in its kickoff coverage of the Chicago Auto Show. Writer Julie Wernau tells the story of an electric car enthusiast who is thrilled to start seeing more e-cars charging up at electric outlets all over the city, including laundromats, hotels, churches and even gas stations.

“Any given week there are more electric vehicles wanting to charge than there are charging stations,” he said. “This is my nirvana. These are the days I’ve wanted to see for the last 10 years.”

But if there’s a full-blown revolution coming, it isn’t here yet. While the hybrid market is growing, in 2012 it comprises just 2.46 percent of the overall market. Electric vehicle sales represent less than 1 percent, according to industry watcher Edmunds.com.

“We’re in the covered-wagon days of this industry,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Edmunds. “We’re in a pioneering time.”

Here’s the full story from the Chicago Tribune.

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