In an apparent response to a report detailing the challenges facing President Obama’s goal of getting a million plug-in vehicles on the road, the DOE has released its own report [in PDF here] arguing that the goal is, in fact, achievable. The main thrust of the argument is encapsulated in the table above,
Reaching the goal is not likely to be constrained by production capacity. Major vehicle manufacturers have announced (or been the subject of media reports) that indicate a cumulative electric drive vehicle manufacturing capacity of over 1.2 million vehicles through 2015.
Ipso-freaking-facto. Done deal, right? Er, no. After all, GM has not confirmed that it will try to build 120k Volts starting next year. In fact, the Bloomberg story cited by the DOE actually says
GM now is working with suppliers to raise 2012 capacity from an earlier target of 60,000. It may not build that many if parts aren’t available or demand isn’t strong enough… Randy Fox, a GM spokesman, declined to comment on production plans. He said he didn’t know how many people have ordered a Volt or how long they will have to wait.
But hey, that sounds good enough for, well, government work. What with Obama’s policy apparently relying on the Volt to make up about half of the volume of plug-ins needed to meet his million-by-2015 goal and all. Meanwhile, Fisker has delayed production of its first car already, and has no in-house manufacturing experience, making its leap from 0-50k units over the next two years more than a little improbable. As for the prospect of Think’s City EV (proud recipient of NHTSA’s first EV recall) selling 20k units considering it’s starting pricing at $34k-$40k (for a tiny, 100-mile-range BEV), well, we wouldn’t bank on it. EV production numbers have consistently been optimistic, and are continually being revised (typically downward). Using them as evidence of the attainability of a political goal seems like a recipe for a one-way trip to “the trough of disappointment.“