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February 3rd, 2011 Comments off

Politics.  Controversy.  Failure.  Humiliation.  Death and destruction.  …Also, sex.

These are the attention grabbers in the media — the juicy headlines that cause people to click through and see what the story’s about.  I mean, you’ll never see Boy Gets On Bus; Arrives Safely At School in bold print…  (Except just now.)

You might recall that, during the State of the Union address last week, the President stated the goal of one million electric vehicles on our nation’s roads by 2015.  (The wording has since been relaxed, to state one million advanced technology vehicles, but the emphasis remains on the importance of using electricity from the grid to replace petroleum from our enemies.)  Concurrently, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University has released a study, Plug-In Electric Vehicles:  A Practical Plan for Progress.  The report is a very interesting, pragmatic synopsis of the role that electric-drive vehicles may play in our transportation landscape in the future, and it reiterates many valid points that folks who’ve been studying this issue for some time take as truths.  (After all, it was created by an expert panel…)

Unfortunately, a study like this isn’t exactly an attention-grabber.  There’s no murder, or adultery.  That didn’t stop CNN from reporting on it yesterday.  The headline?

So, what’s the roadblock? Well, the report states that “the production intentions of automakers are currently insufficient to meet the 2015 goal,” estimating instead 841,000 sales by 2015 based on a single Pike Research forecast.  (This is probably one point with which I disagree with the report, since depending on which automakers you include and whose production forecasts you believe, you can pretty easily break the 1M-by-2015 barrier.)  To the report’s credit, it does include the disclaimer that “consumer demand for PEVs is quite uncertain.”  Indeed.

But it irks me that Ms. Dimmler chose to frame this reasonable and useful report as a “roadblock” to the administration’s goal.  Nothing has actually happened.  There hasn’t been some great revelation making this EV goal unreachable.  Someone just happened to point out the very logical idea that, in order to sell a million vehicles, people will have to buy a million vehicles.  Somehow this leads to the conclusion that  The President Has Failed!, four years ahead of schedule.

My guess is, whenever it does happen, we likely won’t see the One Million Plug-In Vehicles Hit Nation’s Roads headline.  But the first time one is involved in a tragic accident – or a senator gets caught in the back seat with his mistress – we’ll hear all about it.

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