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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: With all the Jasmine Revolution turmoil
By Nutzo on 2/3/2011 12:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
The government doesn't even need to subsidize nuclear power, they just need to get out of the way.
How about fast-tracking approval for nuclear power plants?
Instead we have a ban on new Nuclear plants out here in California, and the left is trying to shut down the ones we currently have by putting even more regulation on them. They have already passed a law that forbids using lake or ocean water to cool the plants, since a few fish might die (totally ignoring the increase in plants/fish due to the slightly warmer water). This will increase the cost of electricity again.

How about drilling for our own oil? During the 70’s we imported about 30% of our oil, now it’s over 60%.
Instead we have our two senators out here pushing for a complete ban on oil drilling of the coast.

If you want people to switch to electric cars, you need to offset the higher cost with cheaper electricity. Instead the left out here is doing everything they can to raise the cost of electricity. The higher rates will kill any cost savings.

By Pirks on 2/3/2011 12:29:07 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, both fast tracking and helping with loans, guarantees and stuff. If the US government has no guts to spank your Cali environuts... you will lose to China and Islam sooner or later

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/3/2011 12:33:28 PM , Rating: 1
I thought you had a Republican governor all these years.

But I agree with you: more nuclear. I think you guys need to gerrymander the electorate out there to allow one celebrity to every 1,000 citizens.

RE: With all the Jasmine Revolution turmoil
By Nutzo on 2/3/2011 12:53:17 PM , Rating: 2
Just another Rino who signed one of the worse environmental laws in the nation. The costs to implement it are going to double energy cost over the next 10 years, driving out the few remaining manufacturing jobs.

Now we have something even worse, a old 60’s leftist in charge who wants to raid the local taxes and extend the largest tax increase in the states history for another 5 years. Everything Brown has proposed so far has one thing in common, and that's to protect the government union workers that bought and paid for his election.

He’s trying to blackmail the Republicans into voting to put the tax increase on the ballot, because he says he wants the people to be able to vote on it. Yet he refused to do his job as AG to defend Prop 8 when the people voted for it.

If it wasn’t for the weather and the beaches, this state would resemble a ghost town by now.

RE: With all the Jasmine Revolution turmoil
By Pneumothorax on 2/3/2011 3:04:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, GAS was probably the worst kind of RINO. Gotta love his backdoor deal to get Nunez's (a former DEMOCRAT assembly speaker) son's sentence commuted in the last hours of office.

Back to the topic, I already pay $0.31 per kwh as I'm in the top tier pricing already(CA has TIERED electrical rates) so an electrical vehicle will just add to my electrical bill. So the volt for example costs roughly $12 to drive 100 miles, while my 335d (which can be bought for <$40,000 with discount) costs me about $10 per 100 miles. (calculated with diesel at $3.50 per gallon)

By hathost on 2/6/2011 4:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
How do the calculations work out when you use a faster charging station since they have different ones available?

By Pirks on 2/3/2011 12:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
you need to offset the higher cost with cheaper electricity
You'd have an OCEAN of supercheap electicity in Cali by now if you tamed your Cali environuts like 20 years ago. Too late, Cali is sinking and with environuts gaining strength there don't think will withstand fight with other more smart and modern nuclear energy armed countries. Hasta la vista Cali.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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