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America failed to meet Obama's electric vehicle goal

The goal? One million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015. The reality? Less than half that.

the cars of CES 2016
The 200-mile, $30,000 Chevrolet Bolt was unveiled at the show this year.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Low gas prices and a confluence of many other factors have stymied attempts to push electric vehicles out of dealerships. This is much to President Barack Obama's chagrin, as he had hoped to have 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) on American roads by the end of last year.

Reuters on Wednesday reminded us of this goal, which was set back in the time of global financial crisis, when gas was expensive and EV tech was still early in its pupal stage. However, gas is once again ridiculously inexpensive in most corners of the country, which is propping up the sale of unwieldy, not very fuel-thrifty vehicles.

Despite tax incentives on both state and federal levels, electric adoption is still lagging. In fact, Reuters notes that sales of electric vehicles (including both battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids) dropped roughly 6 percent in 2015, to approximately 115,000 vehicles. In total, less than half a million electrics are on American roads at the moment.

Part of that can be attributed to both cheap gas and expensive technology inside electric vehicles. Only now are we beginning to see affordable electric vehicles that can travel hundreds of miles on a single charge, like Chevrolet's forthcoming 200-mile Bolt EV, which can be purchased for about $30,000 after incentives. Tesla's next model, the Model 3, should have similar specs and a similar price point, but those vehicles remain rumors for the time being.

For the most voracious buyers in America -- truck owners -- there appear to be some electric offerings on the horizon, as well. Chevrolet used to have a Silverado Hybrid, but that niche market disappeared until recently, when Ford announced that it would bring a hybrid F-150 to market before the end of the decade.

America's EV adoption figures might not be there yet, but between an ever-expanding EV market and ever-tightening fuel-economy regulations, we'll be moving in that direction faster than before.