Obama's Goal Of 1 Million Plug-Ins: 2018, Not 2015, Say Analysts

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President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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Political opponents of President Barack Obama used to sneer, "So how's that hopey-changey stuff workin' for ya, huh?"

You don't hear that so much any more, but 18 months after the first plug-in cars went on sale in the U.S., it's worth looking at a different question.

Will the Obama Administration's electric-vehicle incentives, along with notably tougher fuel-efficiency requirements for 2017-2025 vehicles, let him fulfill his campaign pledge to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015?

Last year, about 17,500 plug-in vehicles were sold in the U.S. This year, the total is likely to be double that or slightly more.

But that still leaves us roughly 940,000 vehicles in the hole, with just three years (2013 through 2015) to get them on the road.

A recent post from analyst Pike Research suggests that Obama's total of 1 million will be reached--but probably not until 2018.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

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Pike is hardly the first analyst to suggest that Obama's total was a stretch goal; as early as last spring, some had already deemed it unachievable.

By the end of 2015, Pike calculates, five year's worth of sales will have put roughly 410,000 plug-ins on U.S. roads. Adding 600,000 more, it says, will take just three more years.

Based on its own projections--developed from scores of interviews with carmakers, lithium cell companies, and others--Pike says plug-in vehicle sales will surge at least through 2020, reaching global totals of almost 2 million units per year.

That's the year that California wants to see its own 1 million plug-ins on the state's roads.

“While plug-in electric vehicles have seen delays in arriving on the market and sold in [lower] numbers than originally anticipated," said Pike's research director, John Gartner, "we expect strong growth as global plug-in electric vehicle sales will nearly triple between 2012 and 2014."

Electric-car advocates, many frustrated by what feels like a slow pace of adoption, can take heart in Gartner's conclusion.

“Automotive companies have made a strong commitment to electric vehicles," Gartner said firmly, "and their viability as a transportation platform is no longer in doubt.”


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Comments (11)
  1. Ah, once again the hopey/dopey idea that a million plug-ins actually would accomplish something significant. There is also the issue of the changing concept of what is a "plug-in." Originally the goal was for 1 million electric cars, not plug-ins, which will likely be plug-in hybrids these days. Sounds like the rules are being changed in order to meet some arbitrary, pointless deadline. But, hey, that's what politics is all about, right? One can claim success in meeting one's goal, regardless of whether it actually means anything. Let's see, replacing 1 out of every 240 cars on the road with an electric. Of course, by 2018 we'll have another million gas powered cars on the road, so
    those million plug-ins won't be replacing anything. Right?

  2. What is it with your incessant negativity towards EVs? Your comments are better received at gasser Web sites, not here. I suspect that you’re being subsidized and planted by the gasser industry to spew out your negative propaganda.

  3. This IS a gasser website!! So much hot air posted here by the uninformed is unreal.

  4. @Randall: Are you referring to this article, or to the comments on it by readers?

  5. The readers amuse me.

  6. From what I can see, the EV sales numbers are driven by manufacturing capacity and other logistical constraints. Demand is there for excellent EVs. Aside from the federal subsidy, the Government isn't much in control of this.

  7. I think Plug-ins would have sold better if we could just shut Fox News up sometimes...

  8. @Xiaolong: Although ...

  9. Our current president is out of touch with reality he would make a goal like this for the automotive industry. He needs to focus on reducing the deficient not expanding it with tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles.

  10. @Mike: By "deficient," should we presume you actually mean "deficit"? The sentence would make much more sense that way.

  11. Yes, thank you John for pointing that out. It does make more sense that way.

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