TRAVERSE CITY, MI – President Obama’s goal of having 1 million plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 may be too lofty, says a topofficial.
“It’s a big, big challenge,” Josephine Cooper, group vice president-government affairs forMotor North America Inc., says here during the Management Briefing Seminars.
In her speech, Cooper notes standard HEVs have been available for 12 years (first-generation Toyota Prius andInsight), but in 2009 they make up just 2% of the total U.S. new-vehicle market.
With current sales volumes, Obama’s goal amounts to 10% of all vehicle sales, she says.
“Five years will be a challenge, and I’m not sure we’ll be able to make it,” she says of the 2015 plug-in target.
Nevertheless, Toyota will be “aggressive” in pushing toward the goal, Cooper says, planning to debut a plug-in version of the Prius for fleets later this year in the U.S.
However, she notes groups and individuals that have used aftermarket plug-in conversion kits to make their standard HEV a plug-in have seen fuel economy that hasn’t lived up to the hype.
“We have heard claims of more than 100 mpg (2.4 L/100 km)” from third-party conversion proponents, Cooper says. But fleet customers such as the U.S. Department of Energy “are averaging less than 55 mpg (4.3 L/100 km) in real-world driving conditions,” with unproven battery technology.
Echoing today’s earlier comments fromNorth America Inc.’s Larry Dominique, Cooper says putting vehicles on the market that don’t meet consumer expectations could be detrimental for the industry and acceptance of advanced powertrain technology.
“That would set us all back a long, long way,” she says.
Cooper restates Toyota’s longstanding position to market a variety of alternative technologies to reduce fuel use and lower emissions, not just HEVs and plug-ins, but also electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles.
Toyota is readying an EV for fleets in 2012 and has placed a mass-introduction date of 2015 on FCVs.