DOE: Obama EV Goal Is Possible (If You Believe The Hype)

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
doe obama ev goal is possible if you believe the hype

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.

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  • Gator marco Gator marco on Feb 09, 2011

    I suppose if someone put out a press release that the Chinese were going to buy the Grand Canyon for a billion-gazillion dollars and move it to Beijing by 2015, that would be enough for the gubmint to declare all our money troubles to be over.

  • Charly Charly on Feb 09, 2011

    I miss the Miev and it would be a surprise if the prius didn't go plugin so the goal does sounds more than reachable

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.