Report: Obama EV Goal Only Half-Way Achievable

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
report obama ev goal only half way achievable

The Center for Automotive Research claims that its latest study [full document in PDF here] is not a forecast of EV sales, but rather “focuses on the expected deployment by states.” Still, by using hybrid vehicle sales to determine deployment patterns, and using a national estimate of electric vehicle market share annually (note: “the national estimates used in this paper do not constitute a CAR forecast and only reflect projections that were available at the time of this study”), the study finds that only 496,000 plug-in vehicles will be on the road by 2015, by which time the Obama Administration hopes to have a million EVs on the road. Still, the report envisions annual sales of plug-in vehicles as growing rapidly, from 77k units in 2012 to 140k annual units by 2015… a number that casts some serious doubt on the Administration’s recent (dubious) estimate that 1.2m vehicles will have been produced for the US market by 2015 (and not for the first time).

Speaking of which, how did CAR come up with its “non-forecast” of fewer than a half-million plug-in vehicles sold by 2015? Surely it was more thoughtful than the government’s simple re-printing of manufacturer production claims?

If one believes the company announcements, production of electric vehicles will experience a relatively steep ramp up over the next few years. Some previous company sales forecasts are optimistic and can be balanced out with a more conservative third- party forecast. IHS Global Insight and JD Power and Associates have created forecasts of electric vehicle sales in the U.S. The IHS sales forecasts for specific vehicle models included Chevrolet Volt, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Roadster and Model S, and Fisker Karma electric vehicles. These model forecasts were aggregated to create a sales forecast for some of these early entrants.41 The Ford Focus Electric was not included in this aggregate forecast, because IHS does not differentiate between models of different powertrains that share the same nameplate. J.D. Power has created a forecast specifically for electric vehicles through 2020, however, that forecast excludes the Chevrolet Volt as it was considered a plug-in hybrid for the organization‘s purposes. For the purposes of this study, however, the J.D. Power forecast was modified to include the Volt in the electric vehicle forecast.

Of course, the report hedges fairly significantly, as lead researcher Kim Hill explains:

The study finds that many factors could affect deployment and annual market share. The estimated number of vehicles on the road in this time period could be pushed higher through an increased level of consumer acceptance, fleet purchases, new entrants into the market, and most importantly, through incentive programs at the federal, state and local levels, such as an expansion of EV-ready cities and regions, and consumer incentives.

But don’t worry EV manufacturers! Because the government has put political capital at stake in its EV goal, any projection of failure will simply draw more aggressive subsidies. Still, it would be nice to see someone in the White House at least acknowledge what the independent reports seem to be indicating, namely that one million plug-in sales by 2015 is going to be a tall order.

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  • Shaker Shaker on Feb 15, 2011

    Electric VEHICLES -- I'm sure that commercial interests (FedEx, as an example, who's CEO is bullish on EV's for local deliveries), will make up a part of the "million" number. But, hey, keep poking at the Prez - it will keep him focused.

    • SVX pearlie SVX pearlie on Feb 15, 2011

      If Plug-ins include mild assist hybrids with a 120V plug, it's easily doable.

  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Feb 15, 2011

    Political needs are not tethered to reality, but in spite of, reality. We could get to the Moon because it was an engineering possibility. All the knowledge was there. As early as 1935 we knew enough about rockets to make the kind of calculations necessary to do it. What Obama is proposing isn't dependant soley on engineering. All the knowledge is already here. What he is proposing forces an complete change on how we live daily. When we see dozens of stranded electric vehicles in snowstorms, or have the first death caused by battery failure when a gasoline powered vehicle would have prevented the death - electric cars will go the way of Barack Obama himself. Right next to Jimmy Carter. They can be bookends for a bookshelf filled with books they wrote about themselves.

  • 56m65711446 Well, I had a suburban auto repair shop in those days.
  • Dukeisduke Yikes - reading the recall info from NHTSA, this sounds like the Hyundai/Kia 2.4l Theta II "engine fire" recall, since it involves an engine block or oil pan "breach", so basically, throwing a rod:"Description of the Safety Risk : Engine oil and/or fuel vapor that accumulates near a sufficiently hot surface, below the combustion initiation flame speed, may ignite resulting in an under hood fire, and increasing the risk of injury. Description of the Cause :Isolated engine manufacturing issues have resulted in 2.5L HEV/PHEV engine failures involving engine block or oil pan breach. In the event of an engine block or oil pan breach, the HEV/PHEV system continues to propel the vehicle allowing the customer to continue to drive the vehicle. As the customer continues to drive after a block breach, oil and/or fuel vapor continues to be expelled and accumulates near ignition sources, primarily expected to be the exhaust system. Identification of Any Warning that can Occur :Engine failure is expected to produce loud noises (example: metal-to-metal clank) audible to the vehicle’s occupants. An engine failure will also result in a reduction in engine torque. In Owner Letters mailed to customers, Ford will advise customers to safely park and shut off the engine as promptly as possible upon hearing unexpected engine noises, after experiencing an unexpected torque reduction, or if smoke is observed emanating from the engine compartment."
  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”