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U.S. still dedicated to electric cars, but deadline no longer important, energy secretary says

WASHINGTON/DETROIT — The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday eased off President Barack Obama’s stated goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015, and laid out what experts called a more realistic strategy of promoting advanced-drive vehicles and lowering their cost over the next nine years.

Since Obama announced the goal in his 2011 State of the Union speech, auto analysts and executives have doubted American consumers would buy a million electric vehicles by 2015.

“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,” an Energy Department official said, in advance of remarks by Energy Secretary
A Renault electrical car is recharged. AFP PHOTO / GEORGES GOBET ( GEORGES GOBET )
Steven Chu in a speech at the Washington D.C. auto show.

The proposal to lower electric vehicle costs represents the first look at how U.S. auto policy may take shape during Obama’s next four years. His first term saw a flurry of initiatives related to the auto industry, beginning with government rescues of General Motors and Chrysler.

Chu told reporters after his speech that he was excited by the advances in vehicle technology.

Asked about the 1 million electric vehicles goal, Chu said: “It’s ambitious, but we’ll see what happens.”


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