CBS: Goverment 1 Million EV Project Has Fallen Short, Stalled, Failed. CBS Is Wrong

JUN 13 2012 BY JAY COLE 12

President Obama Takes A Chevrolet Volt on a 13 Foot Joyride For the Press

CBS is known for being the more “fair and balanced” of the major network news organizations.  After all, this is the network that had Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather behind the desk, so we were a little surprised to see a FOX-esque piece on electric vehicle adoption.  More specifically, the Obama administration’s pledge in 2010 to ‘augment’ market demand in order to achieve 1,000,000 EVs on the road by the end of 2015, and thereby start to ease the country’s addiction to oil.

“We can replace our dependence on oil with biofuels and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” President Obama said in a press conference in January of 2011.

Obama “Walk and Talk” With Nissan LEAF

Now, we are the first to acknowledge that 1,000,000 EVs on the roads by 2016 was a wildly optimistic goal, and there is little to no shot (and never was) at actually achieving this number. The first clue that a government program is not going to achieve 100% success is that the intended result does not fall within the current administration’s election cycle.  Case in point.

However, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson clearly started with the premise in midde that the program was a failure, and then attempted to work “the facts” backwards to support her position.  Something we try very hard not to do here at InsideEVs, although we confess it is tempting at times.

The CBS News investigative correspondent rightly points out some of the early failings behind a few of the electric car automakers.

  • Fisker didn’t produce the expected 1,000 cars in 2011, they didn’t make one
  • GM fell about 7,000 short of hitting 15,000, and the suggestion that they could make 120,000 in 2012 looks laughable now
  • Nissan fared even worse on hitting the government’s projection of 20,000 LEAFs sold in 2011, only moving 9,674 cars (even though CBS erroneously reported 2011 sales of 6,000)
  • Th!nk who was estimated to build 57,000 cars, has since gone bankrupt after building only 263
  • Ditto for Ford Transit Connect…Azure who converted the cars just recently went bankrupt

From these early missed estimates and failures, CBS goes on to draw the conclusion that only 310,663 electric vehicles will be sold by the end of 2015, and that the “effort has, in part, stalled.” CBS provided the below graphic to dramatically illustrate their point (along with their own estimates interjected):

Looking at the chart, we could debate the numbers. Chevrolet will clearly sell more than 10,000 Volts this year, and 15,00 a year going forward. Ford has already passed the “zero” sold level for 2012 on the Focus, and the Fisker Atlantic will sell in a total volume greater than 20,000 by 2016 if they stay afloat. However, this is only the finer minutiae of the argument.

Photo Op With the US-Made For Europe, Opel Ampera

The failing of the chart, the analyst, and her conclusions, is that the intent behind the 2.4 billion ATVML program, coupled with the $7,500 federal credit system has indeed been achieved, and the adoption of electric vehicles has not stalled.  Rather, it has been a huge success.

Sure, these 11 vehicles (produced by these 7 automakers) that were known at the end of 2009 for the DoE to overestimate on will not sell 1 million copies. Not even close.  And some of those 11 were obvious failures, but the program was not. It has spawned an entire industry; and what was 11 electric vehicles heading into production before the end of 2015 is now well over 30.

So sure, the Th!nk City is never going to happen, but the BMW i3 will. Ford’s planned 4,200 Transit Connects will never see the light of day, but the Toyota RAV4 and Honda Fit EV will. The Chevrolet Volt is not going to be the runaway hit that it was expected to be, but it looks like the Plug-In Prius and Spark EV are going to pick up a lot of that slack.  In total, the new models, are expected to have sales of over 250,000 units by 2016, and there is no telling what else might be on the way that could further add to that number.

In response to CBS’ myopic view, the Energy Department’s David Sandalow said, “Well, let’s hope that we can move faster. And if we don’t hit that goal in 2015, let’s hit it in 2016.”

That is hitting the nail on the head Dave. Who cares if the program is a year late in hitting 1,000,000 electric vehicles on the road? That is semantics.  The main thing is that it worked. The electric vehicle industry is here today, and it is here to stay…and for once, we can thank the government for something.

(Original CBS report can be found Here…well actually, since going to press it has been re-written/edited several times to correct factual errors that commenters are only too happy to point out)

Categories: Chevrolet, General, Nissan, Toyota


Leave a Reply

12 Comments on "CBS: Goverment 1 Million EV Project Has Fallen Short, Stalled, Failed. CBS Is Wrong"

newest oldest most voted

I see how the originl author got started and wrapped up in missing the million cars, but the point that the program has been a success was lost on her

But if Romney gets in and removes the 7500 rebate, and reduces the cafe standards – then what are the 2015/2016 EV numbers going to look like.

Very good question, and probably would illustrate the point of how well the government incentive program is working.

More importantly one has to ask why CBS is taking the “glass half empty” stance. Perhaps it’s time to see who their major investors are. Maybe there’s an Arib Prince paying to air EV pessimism on CBS. If I were a rich Arib oil prince, I would try to bribe Executive News Directors to slant stories about plug-in acceptance to discourage adoption. More people tend to follow the pack rather than lead.


OK, here’s how this thing works. CBS is not doing well financially. In fact, all the “big three” major U.S. networks are doing miserably. When it comes to the bottom line, it makes no difference what side of the political aisle a media outlet sits on. As for CBS they are historically liberal. Everyone with lots of gray hair remembers and loved Walter Cronkite – with his comforting deep voice and grandfatherly presentation of the days’s news, who wouldn’t trust the guy? Jay, you’re Canadian so trust me on this one, since shose days CBS has taken much flak during and since the Dan Rather days of showing it’s liberal bias a bit too obviously. In 2005 Dan aired a story using phoney Texas Air National Guard papers to ruin G.W. Bush. The documents were proven phoney and it cost Dan his job. CBS replaced him with Katie Couric who does her best to be a left-wing bulldog tracking down and biting the heels of every conservative candidate or public official she can find. So if CBS is as liberal as a Rainbow Coalition member, why this hurt piece about electric cars? What happens is an ad executive from BP,… Read more »

Electric vehicle adoption is not a liberal or a conservative cause, it is the right cause. The media is looking to sell sensation, and when there isn’t one they make it up.

Title confused me at first. I thought Jay was making the case that “The EV Project” ( has been successful. That thing has been a huge disaster – and when the smoke clears it’s going to be another Solyndra-level black eye politically for EV’s.

Funny, I never even thought of the possible double meaning of the title until you mentioned it. Ah, well, lessoned learned…too late to change the title now, (=

To bring home my previous point, Les Moonves, CEO of CBS and also Chairman of CBS News was seen a couple days ago attending a Barack Obama fundraiser dinner in California. This is shocking and unprecidented for the director of a major news corporation to be seen at such an event! Les has recently been widely quoted as saying political bias in media is not news any longer but just accepted and understood by society as a whole. So it’s no news that CBS runs Democratic deeply and true to course. This makes their EV story even more shocking. Nobody reading this in the USA would argue MSNBC is pathetically liberally biased to a joke, and we all know FoxNews is as Republican as Ronald Reagan. NewsCorp’s ( Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News ) largest stockholder behind the Murdoch family is Sheik Alwaleed bin Talal!!! The Sheik is also infamously known as the one who’se Kingdom Foundation put up $305,000 to indirectly fund the Ground Zero mosque! FoxNews cannot fire Bill O’Reilly, who brings in it’s highest ratings. Bill is nearly bulletproof at Fox and has weathered sex scandals and his opinions that the Ground Zero mosque is terrorist-backed. Irony upon… Read more »

I don’t recall O’Reilly ever stated the Ground Zero mosque was terrorist funded. Rather, he commented it would be insensitive to build it at the site of an atrocity that was committed by Muslim terrorists. He equated that to building a floating Shinto shrine above the USS Arizona. He suggested they build it a few blocks away instead,

I’m also a bit skeptical about his so-called sex scandal (singular), since despite Bill’s infinite enemies, no evidence ever leaked, plus his accuser was rather homely.

Otherwise I loved your analysis (both posts) … it was very fair and balanced. 😉

Where’s the projections for the Plug-in Prius, Honda Fit EV, Honda Accord Plug-in, Ford Energi Plug-in, Ford Fusion Plug-in? Toyota IQ EV? VW Golf Plug – in ?


That would be a whole article to breakdown all the company’s forecasts, but a good one. Perhaps we will do just that. Toyota planned on selling 10,000 plug-in Prius copies this year and they look on track.

The overall number is really what is important. The best forecaster is probably Gartner (which is a huge tech research firm), and they had 2012 coming in at an over-ambitious 100,000 plug-in vehicles, with big back end of year numbers. The number probably ends up around 65,000 units, as they didn’t allow for Nissan’s allocation issues.

You can see that if 2011 was 18,000 and 2012 will be 65,000, that CBS’ estimate of 310,633 is by the end of 2015 is way low. That would leave only 227,633 electrics being sold in all of 2013, 2014 and 2015, or about 75,000 a year going ahead. The curve just doesn’t support that assumption. It could, and will level off sometime, but it won’t be six months from now, maybe in 2014.