"It's looking good," said Assistant Energy Secretary David Sandalow when asked by reporters on the chances of meeting the goal set by Obama.
"If you look at the plans of the major automotive manufacturers, there's a clear pathway to a million vehicles," Sandalow said.
Sandalow spoke to reporters after his keynote address to the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit.
Obama's goal of 1 million plug-in electric and hybrid cars by 2015 was a campaign pledge that he has restated since becoming president in January 2009. The goal was widely seen as well beyond optimistic forecasts for expansion of the alternative vehicles at the time, and there is skepticism that it can be met.
"The pace of innovation in this industry is extraordinary, and the interest around the world is extraordinary," he said. "But, partly it depends on American entrepreneurship and innovation. That's always served us very well in the past and I think it will do so in the future."
The DOE will soon announce how it will handle cuts to its energy efficiency and renewable energy program. He said he was not ready to say how much of those cuts will come in the automotive sector.
The cuts will not slow the Obama administration's effort on energy efficiency, he said.
"We will march forward aggressively to promote clean energy and we've got the budget to do it," Sandalow said.