NATIONAL REPORT --- In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced a goal to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. As of Thursday, however, the U.S. Department of Energy is developing what analysts consider to be a more realistic strategy.
"Whether we meet that goal in 2015 or 2016, that's less important than that we're on the right path to get many millions of these vehicles on the road," an Energy Department official told Reuters, prior to Energy Secretary Steven Chu's speech at the Washington D.C. auto show.
After his speech, Chu told reporters that he was excited by advances in vehicle technology. He said the one million cars goal was ambitious, but "we'll see what happens." He also stressed the importance of setting high coals for electric car technology when advanced vehicles will one day compete with internal combustion vehicles that get 45 miles per gallon fuel economy.
Meanwhile, auto analysts and executives have doubted whether or not the administration's goal would match demand. According to Hybridcars.com, demand for hybrid, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles has been weaker than expected. In 2012, nearly 488,000 of these vehicles, 3.3 percent of the overall auto market, were sold in the United States.
In addition, promoting plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles has been another focus for the White House, and federal policies to promote electric vehicles will cost $7.5 billion through 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This total includes $2.4 billion in grants to lithium-ion battery makers and electric vehicle projects, and $3.1 billion in loans to auto companies intended to increase product of fuel-efficient cars.
But low demand has also affected lithium battery makers like Dow-Kokam LLC, a Dow Chemical Co. business, and grant recipients such as A123 Systems Inc. and EnerDel, which both filed for bankruptcy protection.
The DOE stated that its goal is to lower the cost of lithium-ion batteries from $650 to $300 per kilowatt hour by 2015. The long-term goal is to have the expense lowered to $125. The DOE also wants to see 500 companies offer workplace charging in the following five years. Major companies including Google Inc., Verizon and General Electric Co. are reportedly on board.