New Study Stresses Need for More Government Aid to Support Electric Vehicle Sector

According to a new study by Indiana University, the U.S. lags behind Asia in the development of electric vehicles. The year-long study, headed by retired Ford Motor Company executive Gurminder Bedi, also asserts that it is unlikely that the Obama Administration will realize its goal of placing 1 million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015.

The 82-page report goes on to recommend the creation of a demonstration program in as many as 20 U.S. cities to help consumers become more familiar and comfortable with electric vehicles. Bedi and his panel also recommend increasing incentives to make electric vehicles more affordable, and increasing federal funding of electric battery research and development and plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure.

Bedi, who previously served as president of Ford Argentina and Ford Brazil and as the president of the company’s North America truck business said, “We believe that PEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) are an idea whose time has come. But it’s clear that the technology needs a redoubled investment in time, energy and money from both government and the auto industry before PEVs become part of our automotive mainstream.”

The report asserts that, with sufficient government investment and an increase in global oil prices, electric vehicles could make up as much as 15 percent of the U.S. auto market as early as 2025.

It also claims that consumers remain unconvinced about the long-term financial savings offered by electric vehicles and concerned about the availability of recharging stations. Automakers, the report says, also lack the production targets needed to make the Obama administration’s goal a reality.

The report states that the U.S. has fallen behind Asia and Europe and warns “the future of America’s troubled manufacturing sector could become even bleaker” if the federal government fails to increase its investment in electric vehicle technology.

According to the report, South Korea and Japan currently lead the world in electric battery research and development. China, Japan and a number of European countries have done a better job than the U.S. in terms of directly promoting plug-in electric vehicles. The European Union, for example, has imposed stricter limits on carbon emissions as a way of promoting electric vehicles.

Nissan Motor Company expects to sell as many as 25,000 Leaf all-electric vehicles in the U.S. this year while General Motors Company has projected domestic sales of as many as 45,000 Chevrolet Volts in 2012.

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