Obama Admin: 1M Electric Vehicles by 2015 Still On Course

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Ford Focus Electric Amanda Wills

Press members get a first look at the 2012 Ford Focus Electric at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

President Obama’s plan to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 was reaffirmed on Tuesday.

A new report issued by the Department of Energy outlines a strategy for achieving that goal, which Obama announced in his State of the Union address last month. David Sandalow, the Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, said the goal can be reached if the proper steps are taken.

“To succeed in meeting the President’s goal, we’ll need continued policy support to further reduce the cost of electric vehicles, help local communities develop electric vehicle infrastructure, and drive market demand,” he said on a conference call.

A key component of the strategy calls for a rebate plan for consumers who buy electric vehicles, modeled after 2009’s highly successful “Cash for Clunkers” program. Sandalow said the administration hopes to convert an existing $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles into rebates, which will return the money to consumers much more quickly.

“There is a fair amount of work that’s been done on the benefits of making rebates right at the point of sale,” Sandalow said. “It is more effective, as an incentive, to do that than to provide it as a credit that has to be applied against an income tax return filed at a later time.”

The Charging America Forward Act, introduced Monday by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), would enact that change.

Sandalow also announced that the President’s 2012 budget proposal, scheduled to be released Feb. 14, will set aside grant money for up to 30 communities that are leading the way in creating the infrastructure necessary to handle increased electric vehicle traffic.

“This will help provide an incentive for communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, and remove regulatory barriers to the broader deployment of [electric vehicles] in their area,” Sandalow said.

The report indicates that the initial cost of electric vehicles and consumer unfamiliarity with the technology remain obstacles, but Sandalow said he is confident that America will achieve Obama’s goal.

“Electric vehicles will become a major market opportunity in the years ahead,” he said. “We can win the future, and electric vehicles are a good place to start.”

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