President Obama has stated and restated that it is the goal of his administration to put one million plugin cars on US roads by 2015.
It is both ambitious and hopeful, and according to a new academic report, unlikely.
The 80 page blue-ribbon study was published by the school of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and released on Wednesday.
The report was generated by a 13 member expert panel including a former Ford executive and leading academics and relied on input from the major automakers including GM, BMW, and Nissan.
It was concluded that the country would fall short of the 1 million car goal unless bold moves were made. Mainly the production plans for electric vehicles are insufficient to meet that target and consumer demand remains uncertain and likely too low.
"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," said John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU.
Among the reports specific conclusions are:
- Obama's goal, while achievable before the end of the decade, is unlikely to be met by 2015, both because automakers and suppliers do not have sufficient production targets, and the demand from consumers is not yet robust enough to hit the one-million target.
- Uncertainty about reliability and resale value, coupled with a general lack of consumer understanding of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs), contributes to a lack of demand for these new products.
- More importantly, the high cost of PEVs and challenges related to recharging the vehicles pose significant obstacles to broader adoption and acceptance of this new technology.
The panel's recommendations are:
- The federal government should create a national PEV demonstration program in up to 20 communities around the country to help motorists and consumers become more familiar with plug-in hybrid electric and pure electric vehicles, and create an instructive "pilot program" for consumers, utilities, municipal officials, dealers and manufacturers.
- Additional cost-effective incentives to encourage more consumers to invest in these new vehicles should be enacted.
- Broader investment in PEV infrastructure technology, particularly in recharging capability at the homes of potential PEV buyers, should also be a priority.
- Long-term research and development investment by both government and the auto industry to help bring down the cost of batteries and related PEV technology must be enlarged.
You can read the entire study here (PDF)