There is a critical difference between hybrids and pure EVs that doesn't seem to be a matter of concern to our national policy-makers -- hybrids do not add to the load on the electric power grid, and EVs do.
Over 90% of U.S. electric power generation is accomplished with non-renewable fuel sources -- either the burning of coal, natural gas or oil, or by nuclear fission, which is almost 20% of the total).
If we could completely eliminate the consumption of petroleum by cars & trucks, and replace them all with plug-in EVs, would we even want to? What would be the cost -- and not just the investment cost to expand our electric power generation capacity and create a nationwide system of charging stations, but more importantly the environmental cost of adding that many more tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, or expanding the nuclear waste storage problem by bringing new nuclear plants online?
The hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle helps us reduce our energy consumption by increasing the the miles per gallon of the vehicle. The fact that rechargeable batteries are involved is besides the point -- a more efficient gasoline or diesel engine that could achieve the same efficiency without needing batteries would accomplish the same thing.
But a plug-in EV simply transfers the form of the energy consumption from one fuel to another, with consequences to our environment as well as costs to our economy.
I fully appreciate the political motivations for wanting to make this transfer, to reduce U.S. dependence on mideast oil imports. But it is wrong to couch the debate in terms of "going green." Plug-in EVs are even less "green" than today's petroleum-powered vehicles.
I believe the underlying problem here is that the personal EV is not a transportation solution: it is yet another instance of our environmentalist NIMBY. If you take into account the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power under any plausible scenario of infrastructure investment in the US, it becomes very hard to argue that either (a) we can deliver all that charging current to the clusters of EV users that will develop in urban neighborhoods, or (b) there is a net savings in hydrocarbon emissions, even over the life of the car and added generation/distribution equipment. Nuclear is off the table in the near-term for both political and capital-cost reasons. Renewable sources can't meet the added demand. So what the EV really amounts to is a vision of a million cars powered mostly by coal and natural gas, with the efficiency degraded by hundreds of miles of transmission lines and complex local distribution networks. Do we really want to switch from gasoline and diesel to coal? I might breath easier, but what about the low-income people who get to live next to the generating facility? Oh, right. They are NIMBY ...
This argument should not even be on the table. It puts the cart before the horse. It presupposes the Ion Battery solution is the way to go, when all evidence points towards the contrary. Battery production is not a cheap or green process. And it is far too expensive, even with incentives. Takes too long to charge up, and the range isn't there. Electric cars lost out in the early 1900s to the Internal Combustion Engine for these reasons.
The current technology requires most people to have a second car anyway. Someone else mentioned the additional power stations required for the added Grid loads. So much for that.
Some other technology will be the solution, in which case the effects of the Tsunami won't matter.
The only green I see in Obama's ultimatum is the color of the cash being transferred to the wallets of the rhetoric makers.
EVs are only part of the solution. Natural gas cars, hydrogen cars should also be factored into the mix. Individual creation of energy should also be promoted. Incentives should be in place for individual home owners to generate their own electricity through wind and solar generation. Whatever they don't consume, is converted to hydrogen, which can be stored and used later to power their car, heat their home, etc.
Unless and until personal electric transportation (cars) become cost effective and physically supported (charging stations at work, along highways, or really long run times) the electrics will not take off. The limited range (I am not including hybrid gas/electrics) is just than limited and if caught short (no pun intended) of power - how do you walk to the "gas"station and get some power for your dead car? The infrastructure needed will be costly to install and run (someone has to pay for the electricity to charge); without government money (read here more our our tax dollars funding another "good idea") the will not be support for a low to minimal return on investment. We should be looking for more efficient cars (gas/diesel/whatever)and continue to work on the storage problem (large,costly batteries). Perhaps we should be re-looking at LP? This has been both tried and worked, there is enough range in the vehicles, and there is a support structure in place currently.
This data does not make sense to me. CA had a HOV program that allowed 85,000 cars to have stickers. That ended in around 2006. I have seen dramatic increases in the number of hybrids since then. These numbers for the US seem low. It seems like the 1 million number should be EASY. I'd have guessed there are close to 1 million already.
Exactly how is this supposed to happen with ZERO affordable decently performing electric vehicles available now in 2011($40k Volt don't make me laugh) and no charging infrastructure in place and no plans to actually implement it?
These kind of grand pronouncements of lofty goals disconnected from any reality are the stuff of Soviet 5-year plans. Makes a good speech but without a lot of hard work and societal determination it ain't gonna happen.
I think an equivalent thought to this goal is "Give peace a chance". Nice thought, but considering the realities involved, good intentioned but not very well thought out. The solution is going to bring with it a whole new set of problems. Clearly wind and solar power are not going to supply the energy needed (as Europe is discovering). Therefore nuclear and oil will still be needed to energize the go-carts. Furthermore, this past winter has proven electric vehicle impractical in hard winter driving. Not sure how people that farm and make their living in the wide open spaces are going to justify go-carts for their livley hood. So, keep dreaming...
If we put the target for hybrids and Electric vehicles, we might have a shot. Americans buy between around 11.5 million cars a year. 2.4 percent of those were hybrids last year so we are talking about 250,000 cars on the road, this year alone that meet the mark. If we go with electrics only, then we have a problem since current projections for all makers is 10,000 a year only, and that was before production got shut down in Japan. Could we se a 100X ramp in production between now and 2005? Possible, but not probable.