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"Always with you, what cannot be done"

Most would agree that U.S. President Barack Obama's goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 is ambitious.  But with the first modern electric vehicles like the 2011 Chevy Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF EV selling out their low-volume of pre-orders, and with competitors like Ford and Tesla Motor Company waiting in the wings with upcoming offerings, it seems possible.

However, a panel of government, industry, and academic experts opines that despite that optimism, the goal is likely impossible to be reached without major changes.  The panel was held at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington Indiana. 

The panel's report is entitled "Plug–In Electric Vehicles: A Practical Plan for Progress" [PDF].

John D. Graham, Dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU sums up the report's sentiments, stating [press release], "President Obama’s dream is appealing and it may be achievable, but there are big barriers to overcome before the mass commercialization of electric vehicles will occur."

To put things in perspective, at expected 2015 volumes, 1 million electric vehicles would likely be around 0.4 percent of the vehicles on American streets, at most.

Some environmental groups were quick to attack the report.  Roland Hwang a San Francisco-based blogger [blog] with the National Resources Defense Council's Transportation Program is cited by The Detroit News as stating that the figure is feasible.

Whether or not environmentalists like Mr. Hwang realize it, the report is likely less of an effort to knock EVs, but more of an effort to appeal to the government and public for more funding.  That is evident by the fact that the panel responsible for the report contained representatives from Ford (who is preparing an EV), from the Center for Automotive Research (an industry group whose reports have argued that the government needs to provide greater funding to meet fuel efficiency targets), and the International Council on Clean Transportation (a global warming advocacy group).

Many of the panel's members seem designed towards this end; take the panel's chairman, former Ford Motor Company executive Gurminder Bedi comment -- "A successful national program for electric vehicles will require an unusual degree of cooperation between industry and government, and a clear focus on the needs and concerns of consumers."

The report does offer some seemingly accurate insight into some of the critical problems/challenges facing EVs -- namely high costs and the question of consumer confidence (resale value/reliability).

Regardless of the accuracy of the pressing need for more government funding of EVs, these groups are walking a dangerous tightrope.  As the saying goes "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" and if they don't lobby, they will likely miss out on a promising business opportunity.  On the other hand, if they lobby too hard, they risk alienating the U.S. public and facing backlash from the U.S government.

The report comes at an opportune time, when President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are trying to push a new EV incentives bill through U.S. Congress, which would, among other things, change the $7,500 tax credit to an instant refund and expand the quota of EV refunds per automaker.  The bill, sponsored by Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) would cost taxpayers $19B USD over 10 years.

In that regard, what on the surface might appear a report running counter to the Obama administration's vision, is likely a calculated effort on the administration and auto industry's behalf to try to sell the need for more funding for "green vehicles" to members of Congress and to the public.

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RE: Okay here we go...
By XZerg on 2/3/2011 11:25:59 AM , Rating: 1
Think of this push as the push to innovate - the first initial batch, as usual, cost the most for almost anything. I support this whole EV push simply because it will make us less dependent on oil and more geared towards green energy. How green? Build more power plants to provide the electricity. These power plants can be based on any of the available options - be it solar or wind or nuclear or coal or gas. Some of these options may not be green but consolidating "energy production" (from 1000s of cars to few power plants) would definitely make it much easier to convert to greener or more efficient energy source than doing it at individual basis.

Would I buy it? No, definitely not given my income and the cost of the cars. Just like how many people dealt with SSDs earlier in the SSD days - definitely step forward but cost too much that most people said meh and waited. But the initial adopters definitely helped to bring down the prices, didn't they? I expect nothing different here.

RE: Okay here we go...
By kattanna on 2/3/2011 11:44:06 AM , Rating: 5
well, i was one of those early adopters of SSD's, got 2 in fact. but no one else helped me to pay for them, it was all on me. oh, by the way, im one happy adopter ;>)

like i have said before i have nothing against EV's. I honestly think they will play a part in our future and when certain range issues are resolved i would be willing to get one myself, but except others to help my buy this new luxury item? um.. no.

the people buying these first ones HAVE the money to be early adopters as its most likely they already have 1 car so why are we giving away this money needlessly is what i wonder.

RE: Okay here we go...
By theArchMichael on 2/4/2011 11:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
The US government (including the military) were some of the largest purchasers of solid state disks early on. They paid a premium I doubt you'd be willing to.

RE: Okay here we go...
By chick0n on 2/3/2011 12:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
use less oil? green?

please, keep dreaming.

So far the government's push been nothing but failures. Think of the whole Ethanol bs. it uses more oil to make it than the ethanol itself can create.

Our Government just love to support failed industry, we're #1 right ?

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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