While this probably isn’t the reason electric cars have not lived up to the hype and might only sell about 50,000 in 2012 (less than 1% of total sales), maybe it is a reason we shouldn’t encourage them (yet).
I had wondered before in areas with most electricity coming from coal, if electric cars were worse off than conventional gasoline cars, since the cars would be charged using energy from coal, and the negative impacts of coal would outweigh the positives of electric cars over traditional petroleum. This study says YES coal is worse, and therefore electric cars are worse.
Ideally, electric cars would be re-charged with wind energy or some other renewable source..
Troy R. Hawkins, Bhawna Singh, Guillaume Majeau-Bettez, and Anders Hammer Strømman (2012). Comparative Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Electric Vehicles Journal of Industrial Ecology DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00532.x