President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama set the goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.
So with 2015 upon us, will the country be able to meet that goal before the end of the year?
Not quite, says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
While the U.S. will not meet that goal in 2015, it will likely reach 1 million electric cars in a few years, Secretary Moniz told The Detroit News in an interview at this week's Washington Auto Show.
2014 BMW i3 electric cars waiting at East Coast shipping port for distribution, May 2014Enlarge Photo
Sales of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles rose about 20 percent in 2014, to approximately 119,000, but still represent only a tiny portion of the 16.4 million of new cars sold in the U.S. last year.
Last year was the first time sales topped 100,000 units since modern electric cars first went on sale in the U.S. in December 2010.
About 280,000 have been sold over that period--leaving quite a big gap to fill in order to reach 1 million by the end of the year.
This shouldn't come as a huge surprise--analysts have been predicting that the U.S. wouldn't be able to muster 1 million electric cars before the end of 2015 almost since Obama first announced that goal.
Red 2013 Tesla Model S cars roll down the production line (Photo: @elonmusk on Twitter)Enlarge Photo
Yet the momentum to encourage electric-car adoption will continue.
Moniz noted that the Department of Energy will award $56 million in new grants for research projects that aim to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric cars.
Some projects will focus on improving the efficiency of alternative-fuel and internal-combustion vehicles as well.
The government also seeks to award up to $12 billion in low-interest loans from the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program.
Previous loans went to Ford, and Nissan--to fund production of EcoBoost engines and the Leaf electric car, respectively--as well as Tesla and the now-defunct Fisker Automotive.
BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast chargingEnlarge Photo
The Obama Administration's stricter fuel-efficiency requirements for vehicles in the 2017 to 2025 model years will give automakers continued incentive to pursue electric cars.
Also at the Washington Auto Show, BMW and Volkswagen announced that they would partner with network operator ChargePoint to build around 100 DC fast-charging stations using the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) protocol.
This could be the first step toward a comprehensive network for CCS--endorsed by most U.S. and German carmakers--to match the CHAdeMO network cultivated by Nissan as well as Tesla's Supercharger network.