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August 25, 2011

The Road to a Million

Remember when President Obama called for 1 million electric cars in the U.S. by 2015? It was a mere eight months ago. Reactions to the goal were mixed with some saying that it was more than do-able and others shying away from the one-million figure. But a recent study by Pike Research reports that the goal isn't that far off and that 1 million by 2016 is more likely.

Pike forecasts the number for cumulative sales of plug-in electric vehicles will be 667,000 by 2015. But the good news is that the annual market in 2016 will be 289,000, and will reach 303,000 by 2017. "Technically, our forecast says the U.S. will reach 1 million by 2017, but actually, we'll come close to hitting it by the end of 2016," said Hurst, the author of the report.

Current sales of plug-ins are in their infant stages. The big obstacle these days is the delays in supply, not a lack of demand, according to Pike. The Nissan Leaf –- which has sold more than 5,000 in the country -- and the Chevy Volt are the two mainstream automakers with plug-ins available on the lot. The waiting lists for these two vehicles are in the tens of thousands.

Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mitsubishi, Toyota's plug-in Prius, and others plan to join the party by 2013. The recent decision by the Obama Administration to increase fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 for light duty vehicles will also go a long way in pushing more EVs onto the road while reducing emissions and our dependence on oil.

The president's 2015 goal isn't out of reach if the right action's taken. Gina Coplon-Newfield, Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative for Electric Vehicles, said there are many variables involved and steps that consumers, advocates, private industry, and government should pursue, including, "research and development in batteries and components, wide-spread public education about EVs, public charger installation in key areas, and federal, state, local, and utility policies needed to incentivize a switch to EVs -- not to mention charging opportunities that will rely on renewable sources of power."

Read the Pike report and check out the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign for more.

Photo credit: Meredith Epstein

-- Brian Foley

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