WASHINGTON (WWJ) As President Obama uses his State of the Union message to promote electric vehicles, the companies that build those vehicles are looking to find ways to produce more of them.
The president wants a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. That would include pure electrics like the Nissan Leaf and upcoming Ford Focus Electric, extended range electrics like the Chevrolet Volt, and plug in hybrids. Those vehicles use a combination of electric and gasoline power. But unlike traditional hybrids, they can run several miles in pure electric mode.
General Motors has been looking for ways to build more Volts, by some reports as many as 120 thousand next year. They have also promised other vehicles with similar extended range electric drive systems.
Nissan, meanwhile, is adding overtime at its factories in Japan, so that it can start building up to four thousand Leaf’s a month.
The president reportedly wants to make it easier for buyers of electric vehicles to get help from the government. The Detroit News says his plans include changing the current $7500 tax credit for an electric vehicle, into a direct tax rebate.
The plans also reportedly include two billion dollars more for electric vehicle research. Much of that money would go to work on making batteries less expensive, and increasing the range of EV’s. Those are seen as the major issues limiting customer acceptance.
Despite the incentives, electric vehicles are only expected to take up a fairly small part of the total vehicle market at first. But, as stricter fuel economy regulations take effect, carmakers say they are going to have to use more “electrification” to meet the new standards.
A number of electric vehicles were on display at the recently completed North American International Auto Show, including Ford’s battery powered Focus, that will be on the market in about a year. Ford also showing a plug in hybrid version of its upcoming C-MAX small minivan.
Auto companies are expected to tout electric vehicles at the Washington Auto Show, which opens on Thursday.