The US Department of Energy is backtracking on President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address aiming for 1 million electric vehicles in American driveways by 2015. The DOE stressed its continued goal of bringing down the cost of lithium-ion batteries from $650 per kilowatt hour to about $300 per kilowatt hour via $2.4 billion in federal grants over the next three years.
To reach the 1 million EV milestone, demand needs to nearly double from last year’s numbers of 488,000 electrified vehicles (which includes electric cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids) sold in the US. The failure to reach 1 million isn’t exactly a shock — it’s been fairly clear since at least April 2012 that the objective was maybe… quixotic.
Lower than expected demand has forced lithium-ion battery makers — and DOE grant recipients — A123 Systems and EnerDel to file for bankruptcy.
The good news is that research money is being funnelled into new battery technologies and ways to reduce the cost of manufacturing lighter weight materials. The Congressional Budget Office reports that policies to champion electric vehicles will cost about $7.5 billion through 2019, which includes the federal grants for lithium-ion batteries.
The DOE is also encouraging employers to install EV charge stations with its Workplace Charging Challenge, striving for 500 companies to participate. Google, Verizon and General Electric Co. have already signed on.
November 2012 numbers show that Toyota remains as the leader in EV sales. The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt come in second and third, respectively.
I wonder what Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, would say about his 2009 assertion that there is “absolutely no reason that you won’t have much more than 1 million electric cars in the United States 2015.”
Chelsea is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.