In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said he wanted the U.S. to become the first country with one million plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) on the road by 2015, but the U.S. Energy Secretary last week conceded the goal won’t be met.
To date fewer than 300,000 plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles have been sold, but Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he remains optimistic that the country isn’t particularly far away from hitting the one-million mark.
“We’re going to be a few years after the president’s aspirational goal of the end of 2015, but I think that we are within a few years of reaching that goal,” Moniz told the Detroit News last week.
Up through 2014, green car analyst Alan Baum says 295,322 electrified vehicles have been sold. This total includes both plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Moniz had hoped for a faster decrease in costs, encouraging more consumers to consider EVs. Gas prices have also put a damper on sales of alternative-fuel vehicles, with gasoline dropping below $2 per gallon for the first time in six years.
In 2011, the president’s office recognized that a goal of one million electrified vehicles was ambitious, but had thought strategic backing would encourage more consumers to buy EVs.
“While it appears that the goal is within reach in terms of production capacity, initial costs and lack of familiarity with the technology could be barriers. For that reason, President Obama has proposed steps to accelerate America’s leadership in electric vehicle deployment, including improvements to existing consumer tax credits, programs to help cities prepare for growing demand for electric vehicles and strong support for research and development,” stated a 2011 report from the Department of Energy.
The report estimated that 120,000 Chevrolet Volts would sell each year, with 505,000 sold by the end of 2015. The predicted five-year total for Nissan Leaf was 300,000 units. Sales from Fisker Karma, Ford, Tesla, Navistar, Smith Electric and Think City were included in the forecast.
In actuality, only 55,357 PHEVs and 63,325 BEVs sold in 2014, falling far short of the report’s predicted 368,000 for the year. About 18,800 Volts sold last year (a decrease of 4,300 from the year before). Leaf increased its market share with 30,000 sales, and Tesla placed third with 16,550 sales of the Model S. Electrified vehicles from Ford, Toyota, BMW, Cadillac, Honda, Porsche, Mercedes, Smart, Volkswagen, Fiat and Mitsubishi accounted for remaining units.
Production for Fisker’s plug-in hybrid is still on hold, however. The 2011 report had predicted that the company would add 85,000 units to the 2014 sales forecast.