US DOE progress report says 1M plug-ins by 2015 ambitious but achievable; not likely to be constrained by production capacity
8 February 2011
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015, a short status report on advances in deployment and progress to date in meeting President Obama’s goal of putting one million plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) on the road by 2015.
The report concludes that while the 1-million unit goal is ambitious, it is also achievable based on steps already taken as part of the Recovery Act along with proposed additional policy initiatives including improvements to existing consumer tax credits, programs to help cities prepare for the growing demand for electric vehicles, and strong support for research and development to continue reducing the cost of electric vehicles.
While several high profile vehicle market introductions such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf have been initiated, questions remain regarding the potential to reach the 2015 goal. Production capacity must be established, and technology, vehicle cost and infrastructure barriers must be addressed to achieve large-scale market introduction. This report provides a progress update toward achieving the goal:
- The status of vehicle sales and future production volume estimates
- Current federal government policies, investments, research and development, and demonstration efforts supporting the deployment of EVs
- EV consumer demand—“One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015”
Basis. Conventional hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have been on sale in the US for more than ten years; new vehicle hybrid sales in 2010 were approximately 2.5%. To reach the one million vehicle goal, plug-in EVs will need to average just under 1.7% of sales through 2015 (assuming sales of 12 million light-duty vehicles per year, according to the report.
Production capacity. The DOE report estimates that the production capacity of PEV models announced to enter the US market through 2015 should be sufficient to achieve the goal of one million units. The table below, compiled in the report, shows EVs expected to enter the US commercial market over the next few years, including the production capacity by year, based on manufacturer announcements and media reports.
Auto manufacturers such as Chrysler, BYD, Coda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo are not included in this table, but have announced or are expected to introduce EVs in this time period, DOE said. These could lead to additional production capacity of several hundred thousand EVs not accounted for in this table.
|Estimated US supply of PEVs from 2011-2015|
|Mfr. and model||2011||2012||2013||2014||2015||Total|
|Fisker Karma EREV||1,000||5,000||10,000||10,000||10,000||36,000|
|Fisker Nina EREV||5,000||40,000||75,000||75,000||195,000|
|Ford Focus EV||10,000||20,000||20,000||20,000||70,000|
|Ford Transit Connect EV||400||800||1,000||1,000||1,000||4,200|
|Chevy Volt EREV||15,000||120,000||120,000||120,000||120,000||505,000|
|Navistar eStar EV||200||800||1,000||1,000||1,000||4,000|
|Nissan LEAF EV||25,000||25,000||50,000||100,000||100,000||300,000|
|SEV Newton EV||1,000||1,000||1,000||1,000||1,000||5,000|
|Tesla Model S EV||5,000||10,000||20,000||20,000||55,000|
|Tesla Roadster EV||1,000||1,000|
|Think City EV||2,000||5,000||10,000||20,000||20,000||57,000|
As a result, DOE concludes, meeting the goal is not likely to be constrained by production capacity. However, additional policy steps are needed to further drive innovation, reduce costs, and spur consumer demand, the report says.
The Obama Administration is proposing a three-part strategy that supports electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption through improvements to tax credits in current law, investments in research and development (R&D), and a new competitive program to encourage communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure. (Earlier post.)
This plan is intended to drive demand and position the United States as a global leader in manufacturing and deploying next-generation vehicle technologies. The strategy includes:
Make electric vehicles more affordable with a rebate up to $7,500: The President is proposing to transform the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles into a rebate that will be available to all consumers immediately at the point of sale.
Advance innovative technologies through new R&D investments: Building on Recovery Act investments, the President’s Budget proposes enhanced R&D investments in electric drive, batteries, and energy storage technologies.
Reward communities that invest in electric vehicle infrastructure through competitive grants: To provide an incentive for communities to invest in EV infrastructure and remove regulatory barriers, the President is proposing a new initiative that will provide grants to up to 30 communities that are prioritizing advanced technology vehicle deployment.
Advanced Technologies R&D. The President has announced that the FY 2012 Budget will include enhanced R&D investments in battery and other electric drive technologies. Investments will support R&D initiatives through DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program, as well as a new Energy Innovation Hub devoted to developing better batteries and energy storage capacity to support electric vehicles and other technologies. This focus on continued innovation complements ongoing R&D to support the development of critical technologies needed for the widespread introduction of electric drive vehicles. These efforts include battery development, power electronics and electric motors, and electric drive vehicle systems.
Consumer demand. Although cumulative US production capacity can support more than one million PEVs by 2015, production will only reach levels supported by consumer demand, the report notes.
The report hopefully points to the economics of EVs for fleet buyers; the conversion of the current $7,500 tax credit to benefit the consumer at the point-of-sale; the attraction of PEV attributes to some consumers; and potentially higher fuel prices to buoy consumer demand for PEVs.
There is clearly substantial consumer interest in electric vehicles, as demonstrated by the larger-than-anticipated pre-orders for the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. Whether this interest translates into sales beyond the initial “early adopter” market will depend on initial consumer experience with these early vehicles, and on how that experience is communicated and perceived by the rest of the car buying public. Uncertainties about EVs—including their resale value, range and availability of convenient charging facilities— may impose sales barriers.
As noted earlier, there is considerable work underway to develop data on performance and reliability of EVs, and to communicate that information to the public. The performance and cost effectiveness of the early EVs in the market will be a major but unknowable factor in how many EVs are on the road by 2015. The cumulative impacts of the various policy initiatives, the experience of the early purchasers of electric-drive vehicles and future oil prices will all play a role in determining future consumer demand.—One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015
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