During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to put 1 million plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, one of several steps toward energy independence. But getting there, say auto industry analysts, will require a heavy dose of government intervention and, crucially, the rapid construction of a domestic industry to manufacture advanced batteries. U.S. industry groups are pushing strongly for both.
Widespread penetration of plug-in cars remains far in the future. A Boston Consulting Group study predicts that under current trends, just 5 percent of new cars sold in the United States in 2020 (roughly 750 000 vehicles) will be plug-ins. Even 1 million plug-ins would still be less than one-half of 1 percent of the entire U.S. vehicle fleet of 250 million, but they would be more than 1000 times as much as the number on U.S. roads today.