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Chu Sets Electric Vehicle Target Price at $23,000 in 10 Years

Chu says the ultimate goal should be to sell unsubsidized electric vehicles within 10 years that are cost competitive with conventional automobiles.

President Obama’s goal of putting 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 is not likely to happen. That seems evident based on 2012 EV sales so far, and the roadmap for new electric car introductions in the coming three years. Falling short of the goal—which after all was aspirational and not based on any hard number forecast—is perhaps why U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is on the road promoting plug-in cars.

Chu was in Dearborn, Michigan last Thursday attending one of a series of D.O.E. workshops designed to recruit scientists, engineers and businesses so that US firms can sell plug-in vehicles that are cost competitive with conventional automobiles—without subsidies. Chu said that today’s plug-in vehicles are too expensive for the average American family. “Realistically, we think a plug-in hybrid at 340-350 miles [of range], or a car at double the Nissan LEAF range can satisfy a lot of needs,” he said. “And there, we think, the price point of $25,000 is a very real price that we can maybe achieve in a decade.”

Chu said the Nissan LEAF is roughly $10,000 too expensive to be considered affordable. The fact that Chu specifically called out plug-in hybrids suggests that he believes that plug-in cars with relatively smaller batteries, and a back-up gas engine on board to extend range, might be a more feasible way to bring down costs.


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