A lot has changed in the world of electric cars over the past couple of years. Automakers keep bringing out new models, but sales aren’t picking up the way it was believed they would just a couple of years ago. The Department of Energy has therefore backed out of its goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, a pledge voiced by President Barack Obama in his 2011 State of the Union address. As Reuters reports, Energy Secretary Steven Chu (pictured) told crowds at the Washington D.C. auto show that the DOE would be taking a more realistic approach to helping along mass adoption of electric vehicles.
This won’t actually be such a huge change in terms of actual policy, apart from avoiding the setting of unrealistic sales goals. But it is true that the DOE now has a better idea of what the EV market needs, and quite a lot of effort will be put into making lithium-ion batteries cheaper. At the moment, such batteries come to about $650 per kilowatt hour, and the DOE goal will be to bring this down to $300. It could be that this will turn out to be just as unrealistic as the sales goals, but it is something that will need to be done anyway if mass adoption is ever to happen. Through 2019 there will be $7.5 billion spend on helping the EV industry, including $2.4 million for battery makers and $3.1 billion for automakers. With battery makers A123 Systems and EnerDel already going under as a result of unrealistic market expectations, the DOE would really prefer it if it could help keep any more American battery companies at the forefront of the technology from going bankrupt.