WASHINGTON -- The United States may already lag behind Asia in development of electric vehicles, putting America's manufacturing sector in even greater jeopardy than it is now, said an Indiana University study headed by a retired Ford Motor Co. executive.
The Obama administration is unlikely to meet its goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and may fail to do so by 2020 without greater federal intervention, said the year-long study released today.
The panel, headed by Gurminder Bedi, who was vice president of Ford's North America truck business, called for the government to create a demonstration program in as many as 20 cities to help consumers become more familiar with plug-in electric vehicles.
It also should offer more consumer purchasing incentives, try to improve recharging capability at the homes of potential vehicle buyers and advance long-term research to help bring down the cost of batteries, the 82-page study said.
“We believe that PEVs are an idea whose time has come,” said Bedi, who also was president of Ford Argentina and Ford Brazil during his 1971-2001 career at the automaker. “But it's clear that the technology needs a redoubled investment in time, energy and money from both government and the auto industry before PEVs become part of our automotive mainstream.”
With increased government intervention and perhaps a global surge in oil prices, electric vehicles could capture as much as 15 percent of the U.S. market by 2025-30, the report said.
Supply and demand barriers
The obstacles to greater sales of plug-in electric vehicles are on both the consumer and producer sides, the study said.
Consumers are uncertain about the savings, reliability and resale value of the vehicles, as well as the availability of recharging facilities. Automakers lack sufficient production targets to meet President Barack Obama's goals, according to the report.
As a result, the U.S. electric vehicle sector already lags behind Asia in battery manufacturing, supply chain development and raw-materials production, the study said.
If Asian and European companies come to dominate the emerging sector, “the future of America's troubled manufacturing sector could become even bleaker,” the report said.
Japan and South Korea are leaders in battery research and development. China, Japan and some European countries focus directly on promoting plug-in electric vehicles while the European Union has more generally targeted carbon-emissions limits in new vehicles, the report said.
General Motors Co. has said it may make as many as 45,000 Chevrolet Volts in 2012. Nissan plans to sell as many as 25,000 Leafs in the United States this year.