One million plug-in vehicles by 2015: How reasonable is Obama's goal?

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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