• Apr 15, 2011
Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a report detailing its "conservative" estimates for the amount of plug-in vehicles that will be on U.S. roads by the end of 2015, and it got to give plug-in vehicle advocates excited chills. The reports claims that more than 1.2 million plug-ins will be whizzing up and down public streets in the States, with the Chevrolet Volt accounting for nearly half (505,000) of the total amount.

Some of these numbers are, we think, pretty optimistic (and seem to be taken directly from manufacturer estimates). Sales of the Nissan Leaf are estimated to hit 300,000 by 2015 and the DOE projects that Fisker dealers will hand over the keys to 195,000 Ninas in slightly more than four years' time. The Ford Focus Electric will supposedly make a decent splash with 70,000 units sold by 2015 and sales of the Think City are expected to eclipse the 50,000-unit mark.

Oddly, the report omits vehicles like Toyota's Plug-in Prius and Coda's electric Sedan and seems to imply that all of the automakers evaluated will be able to somehow stick exactly to their planned production numbers. Therefore, we'd suggest that the DOE's "conservative" estimates be taken with a grain of salt.

[Source: Venture Beat, U.S. Department of Energy (pdf)]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 10 Hours Ago
      Time for a reality check at the Department of Energy.
      BTW, shouldn't this rather have been studied by the D.O.T.?
      In any case, let's start building the sodium-cooled Thorium Reactors today, so
      that we have the energy available for when these things do take off. I could
      see a scenario where these optimistic projections could come true with a
      breakthrough in battery chemistry. But, yeah, somebody's smoking crack
      in Washington.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      Sounds very optimistic..

      Especially about the Volt. 10,000 units a month? for a $42k car?
      The Prius moves 10k-20k units a month but... it's affordable !

        • 10 Hours Ago
        @Ziv:
        The reason Ford are working strictly from existing body shells and have no plans now or in the future to produce specialist ones either for pure EVs or plug-ins is that they see them purely as a niche market now and out to 2020.
        This means that their costings will be based on small production runs, or rather on customising existing vehicles.
        As others have said, the DOE have pretty much printed off the production forecasts for American companies, whilst conveniently ignoring those from non-American companies like Nissan and Toyota.
        So even Ford are only saying around 20,000 a year by 2015, although that does not include the C-Max.
        I think their plan is pretty clear, to have a nominal 'American' choice, at a high price due to small production runs, and rely on sales to Government and large business on the grounds that that is the 'patriotic' choice.
        I am afraid that those who hope that Ford is going to even attempt to compete price-wise with the Leaf are going to be severely disappointed.

        The situation in Japanese production is not however going to have been perceptibly impacted by the quake by 2015.
        In sixth months I would expect production to be back to normal, and any shortfall can easily be made up within a year.

        Those who imagine long term consequences from the nuclear problems is Japan have been misled by the media trotting out various loonies who are said to be experts by virtue of their having a degree in dog psychology or whatever, and have most alarmist views based on conspiracy theory.
        The recent example of this has been to assess the radioactive emissions in terms of TBQ as 'on the same level as Chernobyl', which is only true because the scale is very coarse grained.
        Actual emissions to date are around 1/10th as great, and at Fukushima most of it blew out to sea.
        The vast majority of that was emitted in the first few hours after cooling failed, with current emissions tens of thousands of times lower.
        Most of those emissions were of iodine-131, which has a half life of 8 days, so of the initial release now, after a month, only has around 1/16th of it's original power.
        After around two and a half months it will have decayed to around 1/1000th of it's original power.
        The caesium-137 released has a far longer half-life, around 30 years, but is rapidly processed through the body and so does not bio-accumulate.
        Strontium releases have been truly minute..
        It boils down to within 3 months their will be no medically significant enhancements of the perfectly natural levels of radiation for people living in the present evacuation zone, and even in the notorious 'hot-spots' levels are already far below that of many more radiologically active areas of the world such as parts of Iran where people live quite happily with no detectable increase in cancer rates.
        Additional back-up generating capacity is now being installed so that even in the event of another massive earthquake and tsunami it should be perfectly possible to maintain cooling.

        All of which is a long-winded way of saying that Toyota and others are going to be producing just as many cars as they would have otherwise by 2015.



        • 10 Hours Ago
        Sorry, I allowed to be diverted from the original argument I was going to make, and have only senility and youthful inexperience as excuses!

        For Nissan production and costs, we now have hefty clues in the Renault's pricing for Europe, and it is very good news.
        Including the 5,000 Euros subsidy, by 2012 they will be pushing out the Zoe for 15kEuros, with batteries for around 75 Euros/month.
        The costings get a bit complicated, but I reckon that they probably think that by around 2015 they will be turning out batteries for around $200kwh.
        When they hit production of around 500,000 - 1 million a year they think they will be able to do without subsidy, so that would seem to mean that by 2015 cars will be available for around the price of a diesel model, with another $5-7k for the battery, allowing for creep in the battery size and hence range.

        If oil prices rise as I expect, then the additional 50,000 battery packs that the US plant will be able to build above requirements for the 150,000 Leaf cars a year may go to re-badged Renaults, or perhaps some of the various vans are taxis etc Nissan plan.

        One way or another I expect them to be supplying the US market with around 200,000 EV's pa by 2015.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        I have to agree. If GM doesn't get the MSRP down within a year, most of the early adopters will already have one, or a Leaf, or a Focus BEV. I think that GM knows that and is going to reduce the MSRP steadily albeit slower than most of us would like. But by January 2012 I think the Volt will drop below $40k, not because GM wants to, but because the sales will start to taper off if they don't.
        Given the disparity in prices on Leafs in the US vs. Canada, Japan and the UK, I don't think Nissan will be able to reduce the MSRP very quickly in the US, if at all.
        Ford will have a huge hit on their hands if they price the Focus Electric undert $36k, even with that miniscule boot. How much do you want to bet that the FFE is priced above $39k then? LOL
        But after the early adopters get theirs, in 2013 I would imagine it will be around 60,000 Volts sold for $39k MSRP, 36,000 Leafs sold for $32k MSRP and another 18,000 FFE's sold for around $39,000. But I would love to be proven to be too pessimistic. And it really comes down to MSRP, quality of the cars and the price of gas, doesn't it?
      • 10 Hours Ago
      I Agree, these predictions are way off... It's crazy that the Prius PHEV isn't even on the list. I think it could be one of the top contenders... Only time will tell...
      • 10 Hours Ago
      These are really not DOE projections, as such. This is what the companies told DOE.

      The funniest of them all is Fisker, selling nearly as much as Nissan Leaf in 3 years - even though they haven't sold a single car yet.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      I agree with the other posts. This could be much more realistic.
      My two cents:
      Nissan will hold their price on the LEAF, as they are loosing money now, and only expect to make profit when reaching full production.
      Nissan will also introduce other models, so yes, their numbers will continue to go up.
      Ford will also price the Focus EV at a loss. They are contracting out everything, and say they will only build in-house when the market proves itself. That is why production won't go above 20k.
      Think will have to find a way to significantly reduce price (by almost half) if they are going to sell any in 2013 and beyond. I don't hold much hope they will be able to pull this off.
      Fisker's Nina projections are wildly optimistic, as it will take longer to get to market. They might make their Karma numbers.
      GM will reduce the price of the Volt as they years go on, but they suggest 45k next year and 60k the following. If demand is there, and price is low enough, 120k in 2015 is possible.
      I think BMW will come on strong in 2013 or 2014 and there are other players entering like Volvo, Mitsubishi and Tata may decide to market its Indica EV in N.A.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      The figure given for Smith Electric vehicles is out of date. They do expect to sell 1000 this year (about a third of the way there so far, and production having passed 10 a week). But they also expect to replicate their current production unit (at Kansas City, Mo.) across numerous other locations, in up to 20 states. The second site was due to be announced early this year. The company is floating itself on the Nasdaq stockmarket this year and has a target of 100,000 trucks within 4 years.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      Why no Honda on the list? Oh, its those biased predictions.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      It proves there is nothing wrong with the quality of all-American crack.
      AFAIK there are no plans to boost production of the Volt to 120,000 per year, nor any production lines to do so.
      According to this they are going to hit that unannounced target even in 2012, without even a year to ramp up from the low levels in 2011.
      Nissan in contrast is going to fail miserably to sell the products of the capacity which it certainly IS building:
      'Nissan’s Tennessee assembly plant will have the capacity to build 150,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars per year, and 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs per year. Plant production starts in 2012. '

      http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/electric-vehicles/batteries/nissan-leaf-availability/

      The Toyota Prius plug in is meanwhile to disappear without trace.

      Presumably they are shouting:
      'USA!USA!USA!' whilst twirling their pom-poms vigorously.
      It would have been nice if in between times they had presented a proper, researched report.

      I've seen more informative, better researched toothpaste adverts.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        And the Fisker Nina... out of nowhere, will sell 75,000 per year.... even though nobody has even seen a prototype yet.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        Hi Joe,
        I agree that Government figures aren't perfect. They do tend to be better than the rest though, at least in the US and UK, and with a bit of digging usually show the basis on which they were compiled and the assumptions used.
        This seems to be a rare exception, and they have really let the politicos subvert them, presumably Chu.
        If this were simply a compilation of the expectations of the different companies in the EV and plug-in game, then however unrealistic, fair enough as long as that is clearly stated.
        It is plain that it is not though, as Nissan is building capacity for 150,00 Leaf cars in 2012, with a further 50,000 batteries available.

        There is no way in the world then that they would have told the DOE that they expect to sell only 100,000 electric cars pa by 2015.

        In the original source they also say that they have omitted Toyota etc, but give no rationale for so doing.
        This is agitprop, pure and simple, and Chu is undermining the integrity of Government figures by demanding this propaganda be produced.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        I think, in this instance... this is just the DOE getting the information from the automakers themselves.. instead of independent research into the feasibility of their claims.

        Some automakers are more optimistic about their production numbers than others. Hence, the inclusion of the Nina.

        What I have been trying to convince you, and LTAW.... is that just because it comes from an honest gov't agency.... doesn't mean the source of the information is not tainted with corporate exaggeration to boost investment. News media is the same way.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        Yeah, there's a lot of nonsense here.

        Volt might hit 10k in 2011, and 20-25k thereafter, for about 100k.
        Leaf should do roughly similar, for another 100k+.
        Fisker & Telsa *combined* would be very lucky to hit 100k by 2015.

        So all of the big names combined might be good for 300k.

        The way to get over 1 Million Plug-ins, is through PHEVs leading the charge. Bumping the battery and adding a 120V charger adds minimal cost, but gets the numbers up in a hurry:

        With eAssist made standard and upgraded with basic 120V plug-in, non-Turbo Buicks could be go from 25k to 150k annually for 500k units. This is easily the cheapest, fastest way for GM to get absolutely huge numbers of plug-ins into the market.

        Ford and Toyota and the other Hybrid OEMs could do the same, and add another 200k worth of mild PHEVs.

        300k strong EREVs & BEVs plus 700k mild PHEVs gives 1 Million plug-ins.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        John,
        As long as petrol prices remain high I can't see any reason to assume that Nissan will only be able to operate at 2/3rds of capacity.
        By 2013 they will be able to build 150,000 Leaf cars a year, and have the batteries for another 50,000 electric cars.
        Renault have said that they will be able to rapidly double their electric vehicle output is the demand is there, so they could be imported and the batteries used that way.
        One way or another then it seems to me that the Nissan/Renault group will be turning out or enabling 200,000 electric cars a year well before 2015.
        In addition you have Toyota bringing out a plug-in hybrid which with high enough petrol prices will sell well, and new entrants likely such as plug-ins from Hyundai.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        I find most Government statistics for the US and UK excellent, and whenever possible tend to work from them.
        They usually leave it to the politicians to misrepresent and misinterpret them.
        In this instance they appear to have decided to cut out the middle man.
        harlanx6
        • 10 Hours Ago
        Wow, David! What do you expect from a government projection? Accuracy? Not going to happen. A lot of things can change in 4 years, anyhow.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      Of course it is not accurate- it is, after all, just a projection. However, I still think we'll hit 1,000,000 EVs by then. I also think the ones they are vastly under-estimating will be vehicles like the Smith and Ford Transit. EVs are perfect for local, start/stop deliveries- if the cost of the battery pack comes down at all, and with gas costs trending up, these EV delivery vehicles will be a no brainer for fleets very soon.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      I think that the author here has clearly chosen to put the blinders on when adding these numbers up.

      These numbers are very obviously for *projected production capacity*, not *projected sales*. Each of these companies will have the *ability* to produce this many cars in a given year. That doesn't mean that they'll sell that many. For all we know, this will even fall *short* of sales. We can't even begin to project actual sales volumes on any of these cars because the only two cars that are actually in production haven't even been able to fill their pre-orders yet. Real sales numbers that could be used for projections won't even be available until next year, really.
      • 10 Hours Ago
      rough projections for the tesla roadster in the coming years : )
      • 10 Hours Ago
      Also missing from the list: Ford CMax all electric and plugin.
        • 10 Hours Ago
        And BMW's i3 ("MegaCity").

        Oh well, scratch out "Think City EV" and write in "BMW i3", and scratch out "Fisker Nina" and write in "Ford CMax", and the chart looks a lot more believable.
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