Study: 14 Million Plug-In Electric Cars on US Roads by 2020


A remarkable new study predicts that at least 14 million electric cars will be zooming around the US by 2020, and reckons that EVs could account for a startling 75 percent of all light-duty miles driven by 2040.

The ambitious claims form part of an in-depth study, called the Electrification Roadmap, backed by a coalition of business leaders including Nissan, FedEx, Coda Automotive and Coulomb Technologies.

Speaking about the findings, Fred Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx and a member of the Electrification Coalition gushed, “Up to now, electrification seemed like a pipe dream. But we are offering a realistic, practical, achievable plan to build a transportation system that will enhance our national security, propel economic growth and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

The results will capture the attention of government and car manufacturers, many of whom are developing electric cars, with models like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt scheduled for release in 2010. Even so, the results are likely to be viewed as optimistic. In a recent statement, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, one of the most high-profile supporters of electric vehicles predicted upwards of around 1 million EVs on US roads by 2015.

If the incredible objective is to be reached, a staggering one in four vehicles on the road by then will have to be electric. Although the Electric Coalition stands firmly behind its goal, it still concedes that the numbers are “aggressive” and that the government will need to step in to provide incentives and other policies to achieve them.

In an indication of the motivations behind the study, the coalition said, “The risk of sudden and prolonged interruption to steady world oil supplies looms over the U.S. and world economies,” claiming that the 2040 target would cut oil consumption in the passenger car fleet from 8.6 million barrels daily to 2 million.

An interesting aspect of the study is the coalition’s view that a national roll-out of electric cars will be uneccesary. Instead, it suggests employing government support to create “electrification ecosystems” in several major US cities.

According to David Crane, president and CEO of NRG Energy and a member of the coalition, “Introducing all the separate elements, from cars to infrastructure, simultaneously in select communities across the country will move electrification beyond the early adopters.”

Image Credit – CoreForce on flickr

Andrew Williams

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.