Obama's Goal of 1 Million Plug-ins by 2015 Probably Won't be Reached

plug-in car photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
But Aiming High Was the Right Thing to Do
Obama has set a goal for the U.S. of having 1 million plug-in cars (that can include plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars) on the roads of the country by 2015, a target that was mentioned in the most recent state of the union speech. Unfortunately, if we take a closer look at the numbers, it looks like this challenge might turn out to be a bit too ambitious.
plug-in electric car photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Production Bottleneck
After all, it took 8 years for sales of hybrid cars (not plug-in, just regular hybrids like the Toyota Prius) to reach the million mark. This doesn't mean that it would necessarily take quite as long for plug-ins - after all, sales of hybrids are accelerating and it only took 2 years to go from 1 million to 1.6 million - since people are now more familiar with the technology and trust it a bit more thans to their experience with cars like the Prius.

But even if the demand was there, the supply isn't ready to match it yet. The Washington Post writes:

GM has announced it will produce up to 45,000 Chevrolet Volts in 2012.

Nissan has indicated it will sell about 25,000 Leafs in the United States this year and is building a Tennessee plant that it says can manufacture 150,000 a year.

But under existing laws, sales for both companies could drop after each one sells 200,000 plug-in cars, because at that point the $7,500 federal tax-credit incentive for purchases expires. New bills in Congress would lift the cap on the tax incentive from 200,000 to 500,000 per manufacturer. (source)

So even with the Ford Focus electric, the Tesla Model S and a few other models, it'll be really hard to reach 1 million by 2015. The good news is that it's better to have aimed high and miss than to have aimed too low and not pushed the technology as much because the objective was easy to reach.

It's still much better for people to walk, bike, or cycle than to drive. But as long as there are cars around - and that will be for the foreseeable future - they should be as clean as possible.

See also: Nissan's Smyrna Lithium-Ion Battery Plant is on Schedule

Via WaPo
More on Electric Cars
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Tesla Model S 'Alpha Build' Hits the Road (Video)
Video Autopsy of a Tesla Model S Electric Car
Every Chevy Volt is Road-Tested Before Delivery
Tesla Motors Will Make $60 Million From Toyota's Electric RAV4
BYD Stops Production of F3e Electric Car (At Least for Now)
GM to Hire 1,000 Engineers & Researchers to Develop Electric Vehicles

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