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January 26, 2011

One Million Electric Vehicles By 2015

EV plug in

"We can break our dependence on oil. . .and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015," said President Obama in last night's State of the Union address.

This is a bold goal, and it's important that we do what it takes to achieve it.

Just last month, the first mass-produced electric vehicles (EVs) began to hit U.S. streets. Nissan began delivering the all-electric Leaf to the first couple of hundred people on its 20,000-person waiting list. GM just began selling its Chevy Volt, an electric vehicle with a back-up gasoline engine, to its first happy customers (like Jay Leno). Ford, Mitsubishi, and others are also gearing up to sell electrics this year.  

Even factoring in the pollution from electricity generation, electric vehicles are cleaner than most gasoline-powered vehicles.   And they don't rely on dangerous, costly oil extraction.

That's why the Obama Administration has been investing significantly in EVs. In addition to providing tax credits of up to $7,500 per EV purchase, the federal government has spent $2.4 billion in grants to EV battery manufacturers and researchers; $115 million for EV charging infrastructure in 16 pilot cities; clean cities grants to more than 80 communities working to reduce petroleum use; and of course the $25 billion it spent to help automakers retool. Federal investment has spurred significant state and private industry investment as well.

So, if we want to slash auto emissions and kick our addiction to oil, we need this year's tens of thousands of EVs to quickly skyrocket to hundreds of thousands and then to millions.  And simultaneously we need to clean up our electricity to make EVs even cleaner. To do all this, we'll need the right kind of public and private investment, public education, incentives, and infrastructure.

"The future is ours to win," said President Obama.  I say, the future is now.

The Sierra Club will be launching a new national Electric Vehicles Campaign in the coming weeks.  So gear up and get ready to plug in!

-- Gina Coplon-Newfield, Sierra Club's Senior Campaign Representative, Electric Vehicles/Beyond Coal

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