Clean Transport

Published on February 4th, 2013 | by Chelsea


US Department Of Energy Backtracking On 1 Million EVs By 2015

February 4th, 2013 by  

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.

Electric vehicle parking lot via Shutterstock

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.

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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.”

Source: Reuters

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

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.

  • Bob_Wallace

    It’s only one report, but…

    “Battery prices will be down to €180–200 per kWh for large-format battery cells in 2014/2015.”

    That’s $238 – 264/kWh.

    It’s backed by information about how battery manufacturers are having to sell at close to cost of manufacturing in order to stay in business. We’ve got excess manufacturing capacity and companies are not going to be profitable until sales of EVs increase.

    That’s going to be good for EV prices. We might expect significant price drops in 2014.

  • Otis11

    First off, quixotic – you are amazing. Period.

    Second – If we only need to double sales to meet the 1 million goal, I’d still give us a fair shot at reaching it. History has shown that these types of technology grow exponentially as technological improvements lower cost and increase performance. Just look at the leaf – for many Americans it now makes sense to buy a leaf instead of a ICE for a commuter car. Still going to be hard, but I’m fairly hopeful still.

  • David Fuchs

    One thing you need to fix in the article is the line “$650 to about $300”. 650-300 what? kWh?

  • Alex S

    “To reach the 1 million EV milestone, demand needs to nearly double”
    That’s all? I feel like it’s a bit soon to be writing off the 1 million sales target then. For starters, Tesla, VIA, and Ford only just joined the race. And if fleet vehicles included, that could start boosting the numbers significantly as more and more companies start realizing it’s way more cost effective to replace their work vehicles with plug-ins.

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