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U.S. unlikely to reach goal of 1 million electrics on the road by 2015, report says

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The hybrid and plug-in electric cars at the 2011 Washington Auto Show are leaps and bounds ahead of the first cars to ditch gas dependence, but that doesn't mean the average driver is ready to hop on board.

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The hybrid-vehicle market took eight years to pass 1 million cars sold.

"When you start to aggregate the automakers' announced intentions, it's difficult to get to 1 million by 2015," Graham said.

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The two leaders, by far, are GM and Nissan.

GM has announced it will produce up to 45,000 Chevrolet Volts in 2012.

Nissan has indicated it will sell about 25,000 Leafs in the United States this year and is building a Tennessee plant that it says can manufacture 150,000 a year.

But under existing laws, sales for both companies could drop after each one sells 200,000 plug-in cars, because at that point the $7,500 federal tax-credit incentive for purchases expires. New bills in Congress would lift the cap on the tax incentive from 200,000 to 500,000 per manufacturer.

Although skeptics of electric cars have questioned the value of the government's role in encouraging their adoption, automakers and environmentalists have been pushing for more federal incentives for consumers and the construction of recharging stations.

Robbie Diamond, president of the Electrification Coalition, agreed that consumer demand under current federal policy will remain too weak to meet the goal.

"It's hard to see how we get to 1 million vehicles with current policy," he said.He added that new incentives will create more demand. "If 1 million want to buy electric cars, the automakers will make them," he said.


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