Obama Administration Scaled Back on Electric Vehicle Purchases in 2012

By · January 14, 2013

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid led the way among hybrid and EV vehicles purchased by the federal government in 2012.

If the federal government's purchases of plug-in vehicles provides a glimpse into the market viability of electrified vehicles, then the outlook is murky.

In 2011, President Barack Obama's administration set a goal of purchasing only so-called alternative-technology vehicles for its fleet by 2015, but in 2012, the administration reduced its purchases of hybrid and electric vehicles by one-third, following a trend that's been ongoing for three years straight. The statistics were reported last week by Detroit Free Press, which obtained numbers under a Freedom of Information request from the U.S. General Services Administration. The newspaper did not mention other vehicle technologies considered to be "alternative," such as compressed natural gas.

In 2009, the federal government purchased 8,139 hybrid or electric vehicles. That figure dropped to 6,467 in 2010—and fell to a disappointing 2,645 units in 2011, before dipping to 1,801 in 2012. That is a 32 percent decrease in 2012 (compared to 2011), representing only 3.6 percent of the 50,114 vehicles purchased by the federal government last year. Overall, vehicle buying by the federal government dropped by 8.6 percent in 2012.

Chevy Volt

In May 2011, the Obama administration announced that it bought 116 plug-in vehicles, including 101 Chevrolet Volts. The pace of EV purchases by the federal government is slowing.

If the Obama administration intends to follow through on its plan to purchase only alternative-technology vehicles for government fleets by 2015, then this downward trend will need to be reversed in 2013.

About 54 percent of the 1,801 alternative-fuel vehicles purchased by U.S. government agencies last year were built by Hyundai, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda. "The government needs to support a broad base of companies producing alternative vehicles because if they talk the talk, they need to walk the walk," said Brett Smith, an alternative-vehicle analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, in an interview with Detroit Free Press.

Starting in 2013, the Nissan LEAF is being produced in the United States, providing the federal government an unprecedented opportunity to purchase high volumes of pure electric cars made by American workers.


· · 3 years ago

How about US government buyings cars that are ENGINEERED here in the US as well as build in the US?

I see way too many local and state government driving Prius around. Those tax dollars are just flowing to Japan and Japanese engineers and workers...

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.