President Obama’s stated ambition of having 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) and alternative fuel vehicles on the road by 2015 is off track at this point as some pundits have observed. However, the president’s own administration doesn’t appear as though it’s helping its own cause.
According to a report by the Detroit Free Press the administration in 2012 cut purchases of hybrid and electric models.
Purchases of hybrid and electric models by the U.S. General Services (GSA) fell 32 percent in fiscal 2012 to about 3.6 percent of the 50,114 vehicles purchased for federal agencies and this was the third year in a row such purchases declined.
The Obama administration bought about 8,139 alternative-technology vehicles in 2009 and 6,467 in 2010, when economic-stimulus spending fueled $300 million of fuel-efficient vehicle purchases for the federal fleet. As the stimulus money expired, purchases decreased to 2,645 in fiscal 2011.
The EVs and hybrids that the government did buy, wrote the paper, were largely from non-U.S. automakers.
Using information gathered from the Freedom of Information Act, the Press reports that about 54 percent of the 1,801 alternative-fuel vehicles purchased by U.S. government agencies last year were built by Hyundai, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda. This fact, suggests the Free Press, indicates a head start on U.S. brands those companies have held in the segment.
“The government needs to support a broad base of companies producing alternative vehicles because if they talk the talk, they need to walk the walk,” said Brett Smith, an alternative-vehicle analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
“They want there to be a full range of options,” he said. “ In the future, there should be more availability of models built in the U.S.”
The Obama administration is shrinking the federal vehicle fleet and puts purchases up for bid every year, said Mafara Hobson, a GSA spokeswoman.
“This results in changes to which manufacturer provides the lowest pricing for a particular vehicle class,” she said.