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February 10, 2011

About Those One Million EVs

When President Obama set a goal of 1 million EVs on American roads by 2015, some people admired the ambition while others called it unrealistic. But how ambitious is it? Autotopia broke down the numbers.

There are roughly 251 million vehicles on the road in the United States, so a mere 1 million doesn’t sound like many — especially when Americans bought 12 million vehicles last year. But we’re talking about electric vehicles, and that's a whole 'nother ballgame because exactly two automakers sell mass-market EVs at the moment. General Motors sold 326 Chevrolet Volts last month, while Nissan sold 87 Leafs.

While the auto industry has indicated that it thinks the 1 million figure is a reach, the Department of Energy said we can

 do it by 2015 if we follow an aggressive three-part strategy:
  • Change the incentive: Rather than offering a $7,500 tax credit for buying an electric vehicle, Obama proposes offering a rebate of up to $7,500 at the time of sale. Beyond giving consumers an instantaneous break on the relatively high cost of EVs, it would reduce the fraud we're seeing with the credits.
  • Pump more money into EV R&D. Building on Recovery Act investments, Obama’s 2012 budget proposal will provide more money to develop EV technology. Considering the billions in tax breaks, credits and subsidies we give the petroleum industry each year, this is entirely reasonable.
  • Provide grants to help communities invest in EV infrastructure. Obama proposes making the grants available to as many as 30 communities.

-- Brian Foley

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