During his State of the Union address in January 2011, President Barack Obama declared that the United States should have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. This post addresses two key questions related to this policy goal:
- To what extent will electric vehicles help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil?
- Will these vehicles be available any time soon?
Passenger vehicles today are primarily powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) and number nearly 137 million. These engines are heavily dependent on crude oil:
- 75 percent of crude oil is used for highway transportation
- 43 percent of crude oil is consumed by passenger cars
- 63 percent of crude oil is imported
The total U.S. crude oil consumption is 18.771 million barrels per day (b/d) and 3.8 million is consumed by passenger cars using imported oil (derived from the aforementioned figures: 0.75 x 0.43 x 0.63 x 18, 771,000 b/d).
Using these numbers, the U.S. passenger vehicle fleet powered by ICE consumes approximately 3.8 million b/d of imported oil. If 1 million electric vehicles became part of the passenger vehicle fleet of 137 million vehicles by 2015, then those electric vehicles would be 0.73 percent of the entire passenger vehicle fleet. Thus, electric vehicles would reduce foreign oil imports by 0.0073 x 3.8 million b/d or 27,740 b/d, a mere “drop in the bucket.”
The entire passenger fleet of 137 million would have to be totally powered by electric motors to completely remove foreign oil imports for that vehicle class. “Although electric vehicles sales are forecasted to reach 67% by 2030, they will only account for 24% of the light-vehicle fleet,” according to the Electric Vehilces in the U.S.—A New Model with Forecasts to 2030.
President Obama’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles by 2015 will not have an impact on the United States’ foreign crude oil dependence for decades.Tags: Electric Vehicles, Foreign Oil, Oil Reduction, Passenger Vehicles