Actually, the comparison is disingenuous.
The MAJORITY of the North American population lives and commutes inside and around its cities. For the people living in 'remote' locations, such as Calgary, I am not recommending changing to the welectric car yet. For urban dwellers and coimmuters, faced with an increasingly taxed and inefficient (at times non-existant) public transit systems, the electric car already offers a far more logical solution (as a second car - see http://www.zenncars.com/).
Innovation is stifled by the existing corporatocracy in order to maximize its profits. It remains far cheaper (once a critical mass of cartel players is acheived) to legislate or buy out other innovators outright. I am advocating for the removal of self-regulation by the industry players (under the guise of de-regulation - themselves writing their own legislation), stopping the government representatives behooving to industry lobbyists in a mutual back-scratching scenario.
GM only embarked upon its VOLT concept, fast-tracking it into promised production after an INDEPENDANTLY funded 'for profit' company like TESLA-motors (http://www.teslamotors.com/) disproved the industry 'so-called' experts views:
* Electric vehicles can only have a ponderous and slow acceleration (Oh yeah?: 0 to 60 mph in <4 seconds...)
* They can only be ugly and unwieldy and will never have any appeal (check out their website for proof to the contrary (http://www.teslamotors.com/)
* Electric vehicle will never have an operable radius of more than 60 miles (Oh Yeah? Try 220 miles per charge)
And this is only with existing technology.
In the pipes are super and ultra-capacitors, promising 60% reductions in weight. there are items out in the market already, and are in the pipes as we speak to this effect (http://www.ultracapacitors.org/)
When gradual change happens over time because a company invests in real R&D as a percentage of its revenue (not profits), it grows with the discoveries it contributes over time. This is EVOLUTION.
When information is stifled (companies buying technologies, stifling production and innovation in favor of its older tech to protect itself), it faces extinction once these efforts fail (and they inevitably will). This is REVOLUTION.
One is short-term vs long-term gain. Eventually, SOMEONE is going to be left holding the bag, but all the participants in the industry at the top of the ladder are content with passing that bag off to their successors.
Gasoline-powered engines will remain a staple for many years to come until enough innovations prohibit the price to sustain a distribution scheme that is no longer profitable. That will remain years off yet, especially if you include government incentives to keep remaining far-flung villages and cities from becoming ghost towns until technology can catch up.
However, we cannot expect to shareholders and private companies to go gently into the night. they will lobby for safety tests, recycling services for all products into the vehicle (that they themselves do not offer), get the governments to impose additional taxes for this industry-wide damaging technology that threatens jobs, bring forth patent lawsuits and attempt buyouts, not to mention promulgate FUD in the form of 'imminent' alternative yet proven technologies such as the hybrid.
True capitalism has at its core an open and free-market economy where people have choices, because they have the freedom to innovate and offer potentially attractive alternative solutions to a free market. It is the strength of individuals unimpeeded by a tariffed, levvied and heavily regulated marketplace that exemplifies the 'free world'. The age of the electric car is nigh, despite it being almost fourty years past due - more the shame for all the efforts atempted by people to free us from the evils of the petrol industry. Twenty seven years ago, president Jimmy Carter addressed the nation and the American Congress in a speech called "Crisis of Confidence": http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_crisis.html
One of the noteworthy quotes: "Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never."
and the other: "I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun. "
Congress never went ahead with the five points the president made regarding energy independance, and the results have been crystal clear - "dependance on oil is inevitable and ressources must be secured at all costs" (Foreign as well as domestic and environmental policies have been endlessly created around this precept).
Should we all applaud the innovation taking place? Yes.
Should we all decry the stifling and ofttimes hostile environment in which it takes place? Absolutely.
Must we still live with today's realities? No d'uh!
There is no acceptable reason other than greed (social malfaiseance) that corporations (private industry) have not offered up a vehicle with ground clearance, good range, decent capacity, acceleration, at acceptable costs, where such a form of transport is required.
In almost fourty years since man has walked on the moon, over sixty years since the A-Bomb, there has been a true dearth of growth in the propulsion industry, and it has been through managed braking of the profitability and sharing of such ideas as Electric cars, as well as the real solar and aeolian power revolution.
Just because we have progressed and revolutionized research and information and the way it is promulgated through the internet, does not mean it will remain thus. Any time there is a revolution in the way things work, someone's pocketbook is getting dinged, and the industry is fighting back (read: http://savetheinternet.com/). the automotive and petrol industries will do the same - either by offering up sub-performance vehicles, generating FUD, to working hand-in-hand with government to restrict electricity generation, increasing its polution ratio (by funding coal or oil-based power plants), discrediting new technologies through either studies or attempting to destabilize the supply for the materials required for electricity storage, etc....
Those in power always fear and fight change. So do those who are comfortable.
North America has become complacent through inferior education, second-hand sports and entertainment, and it is not by accident, but by design.
Corporations and governments both despise the smart and informed consumer, as they will indeed demand "horses for Courses", instead of simply accepting the drivel and gruel they proclaim as "the best there is... or can currently... or be in the near future... :)"
Another /end rant