Special Coverage

SAE World Congress

DETROIT – Some in the automotive community still are debating whether electric cars ever will become a reality beyond toys for the rich and famous.

Automotive engineers, on the other hand, already are wringing their hands over how consumers will be able to compare EV energy consumption on Monroney stickers in dealer showrooms and in buff book magazine comparison tests.

In other words, after a month of plugging in your Tesla and Fisker each night and driving them to work every day, which does the least damage to your electric bill? George Clooney and Leanardo DiCaprio probably don’t care, but if EVs go mainstream, you can bet ordinary folks will.

Some nitpicky engineers will disagree, but miles per gallon and liters per kilometer have been a good means for consumers to compare vehicle fuel efficiency for 100 years.

But how do you define energy consumption for EVs in a way that is relevant to consumers? Panelists tossed this issue back and forth for a few minutes at the “Electronics in the Green Space” session at the SAE World Congress here.

The answer: Consumption most likely will be rated like safety is now, with a 5-star rating denoting a top performer and fewer stars indicating lower efficiency.