President Obama recently expanded his goals of expanding the use of alternative fuel vehicles in the U.S. with a new plan, and now Nissan has chimed in with a few thoughts.
As Leftlane has reported, President Obama has set a lofty goal of putting one million fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on America's roads by 2015, but many have suggested that the president's goal may be unrealistic.
Japanese automaker Nissan has now decided to add its own two cents on the goal, suggesting that Obama's plans may be reasonable, but only if the U.S. government gets to work building electric and hydrogen refueling stations, according to a Bloomberg report.
Andy Palmer, Nissan senior vice president, spoke with Bloomberg at the New Energy Finance's annual conference in detail about the president's goal. Palmer argued that, "Carmakers can't go and put hydrogen fueling and charging stations throughout the U.S., but the government can."
The Department of Energy says that there are currently only 722 electric car charging stations spread across the entire U.S., with a staggering 60 percent located in California alone - leaving fewer than 300 stations to be shared across 49 states. Hydrogen's future looks even more bleak, as the U.S. has just 58 stations in total, with, you guessed it, most located in California.
Part of the reason behind the lack of refueling stations is the lack of demand for them at this time - there simply aren't many vehicles capable of using the stations. It was only in recent months that Nissan began selling what it is touting as the first "mass production electric vehicle," the Leaf. To date, sales have been limited to under a 500 units total in the U.S. for the Leaf. Chevrolet also recently rolled out its Volt plug-in electric vehicle/hybrid, which has outpaced the Leaf, but not by a particularly wide margin with just over 1,500 total sales since December 2010.
Ford currently offers an electric variant of its fleet-minded Transit Connect, and plans to introduce an all-electric version of its 2012 Focus in either late 2011, or early 2012. Fisker is also set to begin sales of its Karma plug-in hybrid, which will join the Tesla Roadster on the roads as a sporty, more upscale electric vehicle.
But if any automaker is to take the development, production and sale of electric vehicles seriously, a more substantial recharging network will need to be in place or consumers will continue to shy away from new and uncertain technologies due to range anxiety. Bloomberg points out that the federal government has done more than its fair share of heavy lifting by purchasing hybrid vehicles since Obama took office, but as Palmer points out, "Government fleets create momentum, but they're not the be all and end all. the more vehicles you get out into customer hands, the more people start to understand."
So as Nissan sees it, Obama's goals may in fact be realistic after all, they just will require more infrastructure to be put into place to make it possible - and fast.
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