Energy

Obama Still 60 Percent Short Of His 1 Million Electric Car Goal A Year After Deadline

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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American’s just don’t seem to be that interested in electric cars, especially with gas prices so low, which has kept President Barack Obama from fulfilling his pledge to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015.

So far, only 400,000 plug-in electric cars have been sold in the U.S. through 2015, meaning Obama is still 600,000 cars, or 60 percent, short of the goal he set out in 2011. If electric car sales stick to their current pace, there will be 1 million on the road by 2021 — six years after Obama said he would have people driving them.

For years, media outlets have been reporting the disappointing results of Obama’s pledge to have 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. Detroit News reported last January only 280,000 electric cars had been sold in the U.S., including 120,000 that were sold in 2014.

The collapse in oil prices complicated things even further for Obama by making SUVs, trucks and other bigger, fuel-guzzling cars much more attractive than they had been when oil prices were high. Electric car sales fell to about 117,000 for 2015, according to InsideEVs.com, down from the more than 120,000 sold in 2014.

In 2008, Obama promised to put 1 million “advanced technology” vehicles on the road by 2015 to cut America’s oil use. To do this, the president offered a $7,500 rebate to electric car buyers when they bought a car, put money into research and offered subsidies for electric vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure.

“With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union Address.

That same year, the Energy Department released a study claiming the “ambitious” goal was “achievable” because of “key steps already taken and further steps proposed” by the administration.

Part of DOE’s reasoning was based on projected production numbers from the automaker Fisker Automotive, which got a $529 million loan from the Obama administration in 2009 to build luxury electric cars.

Fisker had troubles from the beginning and drew down on $129 million in taxpayer support before having their funding withdrawn by the DOE in 2011, and the government sold off the loan in 2013 for a $139 million loss. Fisker’s bankruptcy was finalized in 2014 the company bought by a Chinese company.

The Obama administration admitted in 2013 it would not be able to meet its goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 even with generous subsidies. Market analysts with Navigant Research predict electric car sales won’t top 1 million until 2024 — they estimate sales will hit 1.1 million cars that year.

The DOE’s prediction there could be 1.2 million electric cars on the road by 2015 turned out to be completely wrong, and with gasoline prices below $2 a gallon, electric car sales could falter even further.

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