While there are already a number of enthusiastic owners, electric cars are still receiving a significant amount of market support from governments across the globe.

They encourage people to buy electric cars through incentives like tax credits, rebate checks, and solo access to crowded carpool lanes.

Some also fund the expansion of charging infrastructure, which in turn helps make electric cars more attractive to consumers.

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In fact, a high-profile figure in the world of electric cars has gone so far as to say that government regulators are the main force driving adoption of plug-in vehicles today.

Right now, many governments are more enthusiastic about electric cars than the average consumer, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said during an appearance at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

But Ghosn believes today's government actions will lead consumers to become more interested in electric cars over time, according to comments reported by Charged EVs.

2016 Nissan Leaf

2016 Nissan Leaf

Ghosn noted that it "is going to be impossible" to meet upcoming emissions standards in many countries without a heavier reliance on electric cars.

That includes U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which mandate a fleet average of 54.5 mpg by 2025. That's equivalent to about 40 mpg on the window sticker.

California also has a zero-emission vehicle mandate that will soon expand to include a greater number of carmakers, although other states haven't emulated the practice.

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Ghosn argued that governments have successfully forced many technological changes on automakers and consumers before, and that they were eventually accepted.

That includes many European governments' decades-long emphasis on diesel cars, he noted.

Ghosn claimed that there was little inherent consumer demand for diesel before governments began to incentivize them with policies such as lower taxes on the fuel.

2016 Renault Zoe electric car

2016 Renault Zoe electric car

Countries like France and the U.K. originally promoted diesels because of their superior fuel economy--and indeed diesels now represent the majority of passenger cars on European roads.

"You can't say it was consumer driven," Ghosn said. "It was generated by... good direction provided by different European governments."

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Of course, the negative effects of diesel emissions now have those same countries promoting electric cars.

And while consumers are still skeptical, Ghosn said he was confident a similar transition could take place as additional infrastructure is built, electric-car ranges improve, and prices decrease.


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