Listening to the media, one would get the impression that sales of the plug-in Chevy Volt and electric Nissan Leaf are falling short of expectations, and that Americans are showing little interest in the cars.
They mostly report on the problems GM has had with its Volt battery going on fire (which they quickly fixed), leading people to believe it's not safe. The fact is those two fires happened in the lab under extreme conditions, but that's often reported in the "fine print."
Sales figures for 2011 are now out and they show a different picture: the Volt and Leaf combined had total sales of 17,345 in 2011, the first year in which they were available.
Compare that with the earliest sales of hybrids in 2000, the first year the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius were offered in the U.S. - 9,350 vehicles were sold. 11 years later, over 2 million hybrids have sold.
So, selling 17,000 plug-in and all-electric cars actually looks pretty good!
LMC Automotive projects all electrics to see sales of 95,000 by 2016, a Pike Research survey found that 40% of Americans are "extremely" or "very interested" in owning an EV.
And DOE Secretary Steven Chu said in his speech at the Detroit Auto Show that the cost for electric car batteries will drop 70% by 2015 to $3500, down from a whopping $12,000 in 2008.
Still, the Washington Post is calling for the elimination of the $7,500 tax credit for EV purchases, and Mike Kelly, a congressman from Pennsylvania who is a car dealer, has introduced legislation to end the credit.
When hybrids first came out, people who bought them got a tax credit to jump start adoption, and the EV tax credit will be phased out when a manufacturer reaches sales of 200,000.
Rocky Mountain Institute advocates for state "feebates" which would add a fee on the least efficient models in each vehicle class to finance a rebate for the most efficient vehicles in the class. The more efficient the auto, the bigger the rebate.
As outlined in Rocky Mountain Institute's book, Reinventing Fire, the U.S. transportation sector can be oil-free by 2050 by improving the way our vehicles are designed, powered and used.
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