Obama’s Electric Car Ambitions Short Circuit for 2015

Barely two months into office, President Barack Obama pledged to put 1 million hybrid cars on the road by 2015.

He repeated the vow several more times, including in his 2011 State of the Union address, when he said, “With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

But on the cusp of the new year, the administration’s estimate has come up about 725,000 cars short.

S President Barack Obama tours a new Opel Ampera, a GM electric car manufactured in the US and to be sold in Europe, on November 20, 2010 at Feira Internacional de Lisboa in Lisbon during a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Summit of Heads of States and Government held on 19-20 November 2010. Credit TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama tours a new GM electric Opel Ampera, Nov. 20, 2010. (Getty Images)

As of November 2014, more than 275,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in the United States, according to the Department of Energy. Of those, 107,000 were sold in 2014, a department spokeswoman told The Blaze. The information is tracked by the Argonne National Laboratory.

“As originally stated by President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union, the goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 is an ambitious goal which has helped to highlight the significant vehicle market shifts required to meet our national energy and environmental challenges,” the Energy Department spokeswoman said.

The administration quietly backed off the goal shortly after Obama’s second term began, without any formal announcement.

Just last week, the latest of several studies was released that found said electric cars are more harmful to the environment than gas-powered vehicles because of the amount of coal that is burned to keep the cars running.

The Energy Department spokeswoman said the newer models are more energy efficient.

“Plug-in electric vehicles running on today’s national grid-electricity mix produce substantially fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the average vehicle running on electricity,” she said.

Tesla Motors has been a major producer of electric vehicles, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz have also produced electrical cars with some success.

Aside from falling short for the number of plug-in vehicles on the road, electric cars have been a troubling agenda item for Obama. Since 2009, electric cars have gotten about $5 billion in U.S. grants, loans and tax incentives. The administration stepped back on the loans when the vehicles were not a commercial success. Last year, the administration announced it would lose $139 million on a loan it made to Fisker Automotive, a struggling electric automaker.

While in Beijing last month for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Obama established as one of the goals with other leaders to promote more electric cars.

Also, in November, the White House announced new commitments by more than 120 businesses, nonprofits, and schools, which included about 70 Edison Electric Institute utility companies, to buy electric vehicles and install workplace-charging stations.