• Feb 1st 2011 at 7:53PM
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We heard it on the campaign trail and we heard it at President Obama's recent State of the Union address. The President's goal is to make the United States to "the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015." The big question, of course, is: is that possible?

This is not an easy answer to figure out. In fact, there will be an entire seminar devoted to "the challenges and opportunities to make that vision a reality" in Austin, TX in early March. Still, we can use some of the

The leading vehicles in this fleet will be, unsurprisingly, the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, which will have at least a year head start on any other mainstream plug-in. General Motors is hinting it will push production to 120,000 Volts in 2012, but one outside analyst believes both the Leaf and the Volt will sell around 60,000 a year by 2015. While we can't know any of these numbers for certain, let's just ballpark an average of 75,000 a year for each vehicle for the five years between now and the end of 2015. Sound reasonable? Who knows, but if so, it would give us 750,000 plug-ins on the road with just these two models. Throw in all the other announced plug-in models – 20,000 Prius Plug-Ins a year, 20,000 Tesla Model S vehicles annually, etc. – and a million seems reasonable.

Not everyone thinks so. A powertrain forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates told Automotive News, "I think it's a stretch goal. We don't think we're going to reach that number by 2015."

Oliver Hazimeh, partner and head of the global e-Mobility Practice at PRTM, a global management consulting firm, told AutoblogGreen that however many of these vehicles automakers sell, it won't be just because they're "green":

As automakers continue to adapt their business models to address rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs), one trend is becoming increasingly clear – before paying more for an EV, consumers are seeking advantages beyond environmental friendliness to justify the price difference. This consumer hot button is ushering in a new focus on 'cool' technology – innovations that make EVs enticing and fun to drive.

Hazimeh added that he expects this kind of "cool" innovation to be things like vehicle performance, connectivity and environmental monitoring.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req., PRTM | Image: apple.white2010]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'll repeat what I said on a different blog about another 'expert analysis':
      'I'm pretty fed up with these random comments by 'experts'. This is almost meaning free unless both the petrol prices and the battery costs assumed are specified, and the level of subsidy would be nice.
      They often have these criteria hidden behind a pay-wall, so what they really want to put out for public consumption is a general impression that they have something worthwhile to say, without it actually being in any way substantial or relevant.
      Here is my prediction, and you don't have to pay for it.
      If petrol is $5/gallon and batteries $400/kwh, and subsidies are not discontinued too soon EV cars will sell loads.
      If petrol is $3/gallon, batteries $700/kwh and subsidies cut off due to financial constraints they will not do well.

      That is free, and a lot better based than Ms Lindland's ramblings.'

      Without the assumptions on which it is based being made clear it is not an analysis at all, just a random opinion.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hi Spence.
        Always happy to check facts, but good luck with finding anything positive in that horror story!
        Here are a couple of bits to get you started:
        Germany has peak power need in the winter - air conditioning needs etc are a fraction of that which hot climates need.
        Here is the daily output of solar in Germany:

        During the depths of winter output drops to as low as 1% of nominal.
        This means that you have to run coal and gas plants less efficiently, as they are used as a makeweight instead of baseload.
        The cost of the solar plan to date has been over 50bn Euros, with the rationale that they would make the money back by leading the industry.
        Well, China has eaten their lunch on that one.

        Similarly, although I do not have figures for Germany, in the UK the entire fleet of wind farms was almost useless both this year and last in a cold, still snap lasting a week.
        All this creates radical instability for the grid, and makes running it both difficult and expensive.
        Check out the costs of carbon abatement in Germany in the graphics to the left here:
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Dr Greenthumb:
        On shore construction costs are around a third of off-shore, where in any case timely maintenance is virtually impossible , and in the UK's case in the North sea would be rather similar to the problem of maintaining an aircraft in flight - most damage is caused in storms, and needs prompt rectification.
        There is nothing wrong with wind power in suitable locations such as the Cascades. The problems arise when it is spoken of as a panacea, and something which can power our society.
        It is not. It needs back up and is basically a way of locking in fossil fuel use needed to backup and stretching it a little at vast cost.
        I am hoping that solar in areas where heat is the problem like Arizona will come to be economic for peak load, but it ain't there yet, and the whole notion of using it in places like Germany is simple innumerate insanity.
        In areas like rural Africa where the grid would need building very expensively to provide other power and it is sunny all year long it has an immense contribution to make to well being.
        It is the misapplication of technologies which is the problem.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yay David, standing up for data over bullshit! May ABG always be a forum for facts over idle speculation, or at least let us make sure and couch that idle speculation as the WAG's they are.

        You've inspired me to now study the German renewable energy strategy so I can refute you point by point;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        DavidM. Wind seems to be more practical than solar, especially in the sun starved northern hemisphere.

        I was researching wind turbines this past weekend, and was surprised at where the US stands on wind energy globally. Almost all if not all of our wind farms are onshore. Onshore wind farms are larger than show-piece off-shore wind farms of europe, also cost less to install, and less to maintain.
      • 4 Years Ago
      750 sounds reasonable Sebastian.

      The thing I respect about the Obama admin is that he was smart enough to get these EV goals funded right up front in his admin before the Repubs decided they needed to veto everything no matter what. ---was it a vision on his part??? I doubt it.. but it;s a good thing. If he had jumped on health care first then none of this would have happened.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Obama administration pushing EV's has nothing to do with being smart. GE, for instance, stands to make a lot of money when EV's become mainstream. IMHO it is much less about being smart than it is about who is footing the campaign bill. Not that EV's are a bad thing, but its clear why they are being pushed above all else. We could make major headway in reducing oil consumption through biodeisel and CNG technologies, but that might make it more difficult for EV's to take hold so they will not get support from this administration. They have clearly chosen their winner.

        As for the million unit mark, it seems very optimistic given that significant cost reductions or technical advances are unlikely to be seen before then. There will be a significant and growing fleet by then, but 2020 is probably a better target for when EV's are really competitive with ICE vehicles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not gonna happen unless there is a really sharp increase in gas prices. And that is possible but I doubt it will be that bad.

      It still is a nice goal. It is very nice to see these EVs & PHEVs becoming reality.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So, how many electric vehicles are on the road right now? 20,000? 40,000? There are a lot of people who have converted their own cars and trucks to electric power. Maybe instead of just working with the big car companies, the people should be taught how to convert existing cars, while making it easier and cheaper.
      • 4 Years Ago
      While most commentators are fixated on cars, the commercial vehicles side of EV development is up and running. OK, only about 2000-2500 will find their way onto US roads this year, and maybe 4000-5000 next year, but have a listen to this recent (one hour) radio interview with Bryan Hansel of Smith Electric Vehicles http://www.zshare.net/audio/8530124592d04630/

      From their one existing facility in Kansas City they are on track to put around 1000 electric trucks on US streets this year. They intend opening similar facilities in 20 states, with the second one likely to be announced this month or next, probably in California. Later this year, having recently sewn up the purchase of Smith's original UK/Europe operation, they will be making shares available via a listing on the Nasdaq stockmarket.

      They sell to depot-based fleet owners, for whom range anxiety is not an issue. And they sell on economic grounds not just token green imagery. I confidently expect them to be announcing orders for thousands of trucks per year from the end of 2011. Government departments and US military customers will likely make up a big chunk of the orders this year and beyond. At present they offer the familiar Smith Newton cargo truck, but as hinted at in the interview, will soon be adding the smaller Smith Edison range. To see numerous examples already in use in Europe, go to http://www.smithelectricvehicles.com/casestudies.asp
        • 4 Years Ago
        Anyone know what he is referring to when he talks about 'nanostructured batteries' at around 20 minutes on the talk?
        The point he is making is that he thinks they can go to around a 250 mile range from the present 100 for the same weight an recharge in 5 minutes.
        The only battery I am aware of that can recharge that fast is lithium titanate, and that is not even as energy dense as current batteries, not 2.5 times as energy dense.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Great audio link - many thanks.
        Some takeaways:
        Costs in the last year have been reduced from around $150k to a point where they are only $25k-30 more than a conventional truck.
        If you buy outright this money will be recouped in 3 years, if you lease then the price of the least plus electric saves you money against the lease plus petrol from day 1.
        Since you don't have a ready heat source in an engine there is some extra engineering needed to provide air conditioning etc.
        They give the maintenance savings as around 75-80% of diesel.
        The first maintenance recommended is after 50,000 miles when the oil in the two-speed gearbox needs changing.
        Typically trucks are taken off the road when their maintenance on engines etc gets too high.
        The engine on an electric vehicle lasts virtually forever, and the truck will come off the road when the body rots away.

        They think that nanostructured batteries will allow a 250 mile range and 5 minute recharge within 3-5 years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        These guys have a hundred years experience of building and maintaining electric goods vehicles.
        Unfortunately on their site they do not break down the contribution of low maintenance costs from savings on fuel, however some indication can be gleaned from Peugeot, who offer their customers maintenance contracts on electric vehicles at a 30% discount on petrol cars - they know what costs are, as they have also put thousands of electric vehicles on the road in past years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It doesn't matter if the goal is realistic b/c the goal is pointless. The real goal is slashing oil imports (I suspect he can't say this out loud without OPEC backlash). The real goal is doubling or tripling US fleet fuel economy to demonstrate that the US can sustain economic growth while reducing oil imports (only happened for a short time from '79-'87 before we went stupid again).

      Why the emphasis on plug-ins? Why the emphasis on being the first? The US was the first country to the moon. We haven't visited the moon in nearly 40 years. We built the first transcontinental railway, then we let it fall into disrepair b/c we wanted automobiles and airplanes. Space travel and the transcontinental railway were important, but they didn't have direct, long-term relevance. Pushing for 1M plug-ins won't have long term relevance either.

      The faux political objectives and legacy initiatives are vapid and tiresome. It would have been better if he unveiled a plan to give "X-prize" subsidies to auto manufacturers who sell fuel efficient cars. For example, the US government will pay $200M in awards to companies for every 100,000 50mpg vehicles they sell per year. If Toyota sold 200,000 Prii, they'd get $400M dollars. If Chevy sold 199,999 Volts, they'd get $200M. The plan could be scaled down for low-volume manufacturers.

      It's not perfect, but producer subsidies are better than crony socialism for research companies and demand subsidies for taxpayers. Performance-based producer subsidies are even better b/c the money never leaves the treasury until the manufacturers have performed. Furthermore, the prize arrangement allows the private sector and the consumers pick the winners and losers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My, the transcontinental railroad is still one of the main systems used in this country for freight transport. It opened up massive parts of the country, allowed America to become an agricultural and raw goods export powerhouse, led to the settlement of the West Coast, knitted together the nation and allowed for huge social mobility, giving average Americans a way to start over in a new place. It's economic effect on this country was a mountain compared to the molehill the government spent to finance it and procure the land. It paid dividends and is still, to this day, paying them. You can move many times the freight for a gallon of diesel on those rails then you ever can in a truck. It was a sterling investment, and that old tech is still paying out.

        Yeah, technologies change. We didn't go back to the moon with manned launches because we didn't really need to, but we've sent our robots scurrying across the face of Mars and our satellites out of the solar system. We're only at the dawn of space exploration. We move forward. It's not a race, but if the US doesn't get in the game, we will be a backwater as other nations don't shy from investing in the science, engineering, and manufacturing of the new wave of alternative transport. It's about a hell of a lot more then cutting oil imports, laudable as that goal may be. It's about learning to do something (private transport) better then we did it before, and getting wealthier and wiser in the process.

        BTW, I see no real difference between your proposed scheme of paying manufacturers directly and the current subsidy system that pays consumers directly. Either way, it's "crony socialism", bringing the power of the government to bear to incubate a needed technology that couldn't survive otherwise. At least this way we are leaving the choice of manufacturer in the hands of the consumer, which mitigates the economic over-priming effect

        The Transcontinental wouldn't have ever been built by the private companies that built it, without government funding and the donation of government lands. It was a wise decision that payed for itself over and over and over. That's exactly what we need now. Government and business working together prepare us for the end of cheap oil.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For long distance freight, I would like to see tube delivery of goods introduced:

        'The Foodtubes group wants to put goods in metal capsules 2 meters (6 feet) long, which are shifted through underground polyethylene tubes at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, directed by linear induction motors and routed by intelligent software to their destinations.'

        Since damage to the roads rises at the third power of axle weight this should enable massive savings in highway repair costs apart from those on fuel.
        A single truck can do 8,000 times the damage of a car.

        The fuel costs would be hugely less than any road transport system, and could go direct from the ports and factories to local warehouses without excessively long new infrastructure.
        Construction costs are fairly low and tubes could be suspended above the central reservation of highways so minimising land use.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @David Martin

        Talks of tubes and such..
        Are you a bond villain per-chance?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "If the transcontinental railroad is so important, why is it failing? Maybe b/c the government picked interstates and airports instead? "

        Actually, GM had a lot more to do with the destruction of the US's widespread state of the art rail systems, and in doing so forced a transition to the freeway / suburb / consumption culture that has been primarily responsible for the demise of the US.

        See the movie, "Taken for a Ride"
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have to reiterate what spence said. Yes it would seem the moon missions were a waste, but the after effects we still see today, with many modern technologies discovered during those years. The same could be said for the LHC at CERN.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Darn! You have uncovered my evil plan!
        Is your name Smith....Andy Smith?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The difference between paying consumers and paying producers is fundamental economics. Demand subsidies shift the demand curve to higher equilibrium cost. Producer's eventually find ways to capture demand subsidies. Producer subsidies shift the supply curve outward to a lower equilibrium cost. If competitive forces are working properly, consumers capture a larger portion of the subsidy over time.

        Producer subsidies are risky. If the government picks a loser, the taxpayers suffer, the economic plight does not improve, and the government demands more money b/c progress is lacking. Surprise! This is how we fund technology and education in the US. No surprise then, that public education and public technology are lagging quite badly in the US. It would be funny if people didn't continue to endorse government "investment" under the false pretense that US public sector services are behind their European and Asian counterparts b/c we don't spend enough. Actually, it's due to the relationship between public sector and private sector talent. Most of the best people work in the private sector which means the more money we dump into the public sector, the more we subsidize/encourage/support failure.

        I'm not trying to go on a government rant, only to show that the system is even more critical than the underlying ideology. Free market people fail when they encourage crony capitalism. Government people fail when they utilize crony socialism.

        If the transcontinental railroad is so important, why is it failing? Maybe b/c the government picked interstates and airports instead? What will it cost us to arbitrarily pick plug-in vehicles rather than letting economic productivity be our guide?
      • 4 Years Ago
      rcappo - there are numerous (often local) websites giving advice and illustrated progress reports on do-it-yourself electric conversions. Hundreds of them. There's also this long established site http://www.evdl.org/index.html

      Unfortunately the image of electric vehicles being something for enthusiastic hobbyists probably plays into the hands of those dismissing EVs' mainstream potential.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As CEO and founder of a hybrid electric powertrain company with Tesla roots (www.altellc.com), I felt it was time to weight in. We are preparing for mass production of a plug in hybrid electric powertrain that takes 14 mpg full size trucks and vans and converts them into 50+ mpg hybrid electric trucks and vans. We are aligned with Calcars.org in CA, The Electrification Coalition in DC along with other leading institutions and have 70+ fleet customers representing over 920,000 light truck and van high mileage vehicles in the USA. We embrace Andy Grove’s dream of converting a meaningful percentage of the 108 million existing pickup trucks, SUVs and vans on the road in the US today. Specifically, we are targeting a good portion of the 10.2 million light trucks and vans registered to fleet organizations. Our company is “tooling up” for 90,000 powertrains per year starting production in 2012 and securing production supply of motors, batteries, inverters, genset engines, etc to be able to assist President Obama and the administration achieve the goals of energy independence and a sustainable transportation industry in a very meaningful way. Keep the faith EV enthusiasts, the evolution is in process and we all stand to benefit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was actually trying to grab his attention... ;)

        You are quite correct.. Doh!
        Punctuation and grammar were never my strong points at scholl...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Surely should be: Hear! Hear! -as in 'hear him, hear him!' :-)

        More seriously I would join you in welcoming this post, and would like to see progress updated here - not 'hear!' ;-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Here, here. Thank you for your efforts, keep up the good work and good luck
      • 4 Years Ago
      The $1M target is very doable assuming of course production can meet demand - when you factor in potential fleet purchases.

      If you can get fleet managers on side it is possible - such as GE's 15,000 plug-in order.


      The key is the automakers need to start to get more in these in driveways as soon as possible so the neighbour can start asking "whats that car you got in the driveway" and then the mainstream awareness can begin.

      I applaud Obama strongly for this action.
        • 4 Years Ago
        what action??
        that's the very problem, they do nothing!

        1million plugins is very easy. if they did something. they have done nothing. bubkes. they've given sluggish loans to a couple of slow moving small timers with no chance of making a difference in foreseeable future.
        otherwise they just mindlessly wait for big auto to do it on their own. which is how it took 30 years too long to get started on EVs in the first place. and would have taken a 100 more if they weren't shamed into action.
        chubama is pathetic. disgustingly incompetent.

        they should give ultimatums to the various relevant companies today. either you do it, or we will. and not super lame bs like merkel is doing in germany. Merkel: can't you make some EVs? Audi: sure, give us a lot of money and we'll get right on it. aaaaaany day now.
        when dealing with evil people you can't be a schmuck. of course chances are that both merkel and obama are evil too. don king promoting.
        and how is that possible? because you sheep don't object.
        • 4 Years Ago
        scratch the $ sign :P
      • 4 Years Ago
      Waiting for FT to troll with something stupid in 3.. 2.. 1..
      • 4 Years Ago
      Don't forget about the USPS vehicles that are currently undergoing testing. That's 150,000+ potential new EVs on the road.



      That purchase - which seems pretty much set to happen - will constitute a *huge* batch of electric vehicles that would contribute to meeting President Obama's goal.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A "goal" is something is something someone tries to achieve....so I don't understand how the president can have this as a goal...since he has no roll in the matter. Unless he's going to do his part by giving hybrids & EV's a large subsidy.....which isn't out of the question, he's mastered the art of spending money we don't have.
        • 4 Years Ago
        President's set goals for the country all the time, what the hell are you going on about?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "He should have taken the subsidies from oil & ethanol, and put it towards of national debt."

        No, there is not enough energy available on eh planet for the US to deal with its debt, which is why the US dollar will be going to zero when the current money printing causes the destruction of the economy, likely in a year or two. The best thing the US can do is spend all of its funny money reserve currency right now while it has it and try to get off oil, because after the US dollar hyperinflates it will be able to buy no more foreign oil in quantity.

        "The open market can dictate everything (with government oversight...not government funding)."

        Kind of, not really. The open market is inefficient because it can't see the bigger picture, and often gets hung up in destructive loops, and it externalizes its true costs out of the price.

        We need government oversight and government intervention, but with government that is not pandering to specific corporate interests.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Trevor - Yes, they do set goals...government goals. Like going to the moon or having a high speed rail network by 2030. those are things that are government controlled and funded, which means you can set a goal for yourself (yourself meaning the government).
        • 4 Years Ago
        What's with your spelling/grammar? I wasn't gonna say anything but after reading all your replies it's just one after the other...
        "he has no roll in the matter"-because he's not a baker?
        "Joe - I watched the it."
        "Its like he has this massive urge to bury are country in a mountain of debt."
        "those are things that are government controlled and funded, which means you can set a goal for yourself (yourself meaning the government)."

        It's really hard to take your criticism of other people seriously when you're barely coherent. And half your criticisms sound like something you heard on TV that you're just regurgitating. Use your brain.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Joe - I watched the it.

        He should have taken the subsidies from oil & ethanol, and put it towards of national debt. Its like he has this massive urge to bury are country in a mountain of debt.

        The open market can dictate everything (with government oversight...not government funding).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Watch or Listen to the State of the Union

        He says he would like to take subsidies away from yesterday's energy (oil companies) and give it to today's technologies (Alt Vehicles.)

        He wants to strike a compromise with Republicans. Pay for a new energy policy, without raising taxes.
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