Electric Car Goal Uncertain, But U.S. Dedicated To Project

By Jordan Mammo email: , Feb 01, 2013 06:44 PM EST

When President Barack Obama first took office, he set a goal of having 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015.

The White House is still dedicated to making the automobiles a viable alternatives for the country, but it looks like it's backing off its initial target.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy will continue to promote the development of electric cars by trying to cut down on manufacturing costs. Before the vehicles can truly be considered practical choice for most Americans, their prices need to head south.

When asked about the administration's 1 million car goal, Energy Secretary Steven Chu was noncommittal.

"It's ambitious, but we'll see what happens," he said to Reuters after laying out the department's new strategy at the Washington D.C. auto show.

Careful to not be seen as a failure, the Energy Department preempted Chu's speech by noting that it's more important to set the country on a healthy trajectory than it is to spend all its effort on a number.

"Whether we meet that goal in 2015 or 2016, that's less important than that we're on the right path to get many millions of these vehicles on the road," said an Energy Department official.

The Obama administration has spent billions of dollars in the form of grants and loans to lithium-ion battery makers and car manufacturers in order to promote the production of electric vehicles, but so far the results haven't been up to par. Reuters reports that 448,000 hybrid automobiles were sold last year, and that to meet the White House's original goal electric cars would have to reach six percent of the overall market, a pace that currently looks unlikely.

According to Bloomberg, the administration hasn't made an alternative energy loan related to cars since 2011. The push from this point on will go into engineering more lightweight electric vehicles, which would lower manufacturing costs and help result in more affordable products.

Chu wants five-passenger electric car to cost between $20,000 and $25,000.

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