Checking in on the 1 Million Electric Vehicle pledgeNovember 7, 2013
Back when he was running for his first term as president, then Senator Barack Obama made the promotion of plug in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (PHEV and BEV, respectively) a central plank of his energy plan. Indeed, he made the specific claim that by 2015 at least 1 million PHEV and BEVs would be on the road in the US (and that they would all be made in America). The latest sales numbers are out and, through the month of October, 2013, the grand total of PHEV and BEVs sold in the US stands at just under 150,000. While sales have dropped for consecutive months, the yearly total is already greater than it was last year. Indeed, more than half the PHEVs and BEVs sold in the US since 2009 have been sold this year. Some of those cars are no longer on the road, so we don’t know the actual total, but no matter – the 1 million car pledge is far from being met and will likely come up about half a million cars short. I think a big part of the problem is that these cars are somewhat deceptively marketed – they are sold as the equivalent of long haul cruisers, but in reality they are just commuter cars – commuter cars at a premium price, I might add. In this, they are outperformed by hybrid vehicles, which can combine enhanced gas mileage with long haul capabilities. Teslas are big here in Los Angeles, but you can’t load the family up and drive them to the Grand Canyon. You can do that with a Prius – and receive the same access to the car pool lane (not to mention the $30,000+ price premium you will receive).