Obama Administration Scaled Back on Electric Vehicle Purchases 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.
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.
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