One million electric cars on the road by 2015.
This was the goal President Obama set for the United States during his State of the Union address.
It's an aggressive goal, to say the least — and quite frankly, one I find to be a bit on the overly-optimistic side...
I'm not saying it can't happen; certainly we have the production capacity to pull it off. And from the folks I've been speaking with over the past two days here at the Plug-In 2012 conference in San Antonio, it's a goal that plenty here would be happy to help facilitate...
But will we actually see one million electric cars on our nation's roads in less than three years?
According to Pike Research, about 410,000 plug-in electric vehicles will be sold between 2011 and 2015 in the United States, and cumulative sales won't reach the one million mark until 2018. So it looks like we might be coming up a little short.
But to go from less than a thousand (722 total in 2010) to one million in eight years is nothing to trivialize — even if Obama does end up with a little egg on his face.
What Reagan Said...
Look, I'd love nothing more than to see a million electric cars on the road by 2015.
After all, what's the point in having goals if we don't set them high enough?
Truth is setting high (and sometimes overly-optimistic) goals has led this country to greatness over the years...
From the Declaration of Independence to the moon landing, no great event in our history was ever the result of complacency and defeatism.
It was President Ronald Reagan who once said: "... if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose — somehow we win out."
So, what are we going to make of our lives?
Are we going to continue to buy the illusion that nothing is better or more practical or more economical than the conventional internal combustion engine?
Are we going to continue to allow other countries (many of which are hostile to the United States) to dictate our growth by controlling the flow of our most important drug?
OR are we going to suspend the nonsense and the partisan puppet show, get our acts together, and do the heavy lifting so that future generations of Americans will never have to know what it's like to have to fight immoral and illegitimate wars just to secure oil supplies?
Because if we truly want to break the shackles of our foreign oil reliance, we need to come together and embrace the solutions that are available to us at this very moment.
A Patriotic Endeavor
Whether it's using natural gas as a transportation fuel, utilizing our own domestic oil resources, embracing public transportation and high-speed rail, or supporting the early development of electric, hybrid, and high-mpg internal combustion vehicles...
There are enough tools in our tool shed to end our reliance on oil from countries that are hostile to the United States.
We talk about all of these options regularly here at Energy and Capital, but since I'm writing to you from an electric car conference in Texas, let me share with you some interesting data regarding the first round of mass-produced and mass-marketed electric cars that essentially launched about a year ago:
- To date, more than 34,500 all-electric Nissan LEAFs have been sold. To put that in perspective, when the Toyota Prius first launched in 1997, only 3,000 were sold — and that was for a vehicle that required no charging stations or any other kind of change in consumer behavior. Today Prius sales numbers are in excess of 3 million, with about half of those sales generated in the U.S.
Nissan has since announced it will launch 8 electric vehicles by 2014 with the goal of seeing 1.5 million by 2016.
To date, more than 21,500 Chevy Volts have been sold. (The Chevy Volt is an extended-range electric car, meaning you can drive in all-electric mode or utilize the on-board combustion engine.) The most recent data shows the average Volt owner visits a gas station once a month and typically drives at least 900 miles before refilling.
About 63 million Volt miles have been collectively driven thus far. This has resulted in a savings of more than 3.3 million gallons of gas.
Now, maybe you're not a fan of electric cars. Perhaps the limited range and early adopter price tag are not to your liking...
Maybe in another ten years or so, when electric cars are priced competitively and the technology has advanced enough to offer a 500-mile range, you might change your mind.
But there's no denying one simple fact: Electric cars serve as one of many solutions to our foreign oil reliance.
For that reason alone, these vehicles should be worthy of support from all Americans — on both sides of the aisle.
Quite frankly, I can't think of many things more patriotic than supporting such an endeavor.
Same goes with capitalizing on our robust bounty of natural gas...
Do you realize that today's fleet of U.S. trucks and buses consumes about 2.5 million barrels of oil per day?
Transitioning those fleets from diesel to natural gas would allow us to displace 42% of what we currently import from OPEC nations.
This is what I'm talking about when I speak of embracing solutions that can help end our reliance on foreign oil.
And I don't care if you're ready to go out and buy a Chevy Volt, or invest in high-yielding natural gas stocks operating in the United States...
There's an opportunity for everyone to do the right thing for this nation — and make a few bucks in the process.
To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth...
@JeffSiegel on Twitter
Jeff is the managing editor of Energy and Capital and contributing analyst for the Energy Investor, an independent investment research service focusing primarily on stocks in the oil & gas, modern energy and infrastructure markets. He has been a featured guest on Fox, CNBC, and Bloomberg Asia, and is the author of the best-selling book, Investing in Renewable Energy: Making Money on Green Chip Stocks. For more on Jeff, go to his editor's page.