Obama Invests $2.4 Billion in NextGen Plug-in Hybrids, Batteries

By dancurranjr On March 21st, 2009

obama-edisonTo produce the next generation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and the advanced battery components that will make these vehicles run, President Barack Obama Thursday announced $2.4 billion in economic stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This investment will not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it will put Americans back to work,” President Obama said while touring Southern California Edison’s Electric Vehicle Center in Pomona, California. “It positions American manufacturers on the cutting edge of innovation and solving our energy challenges.”

“We have a choice to make, Obama told an audience of workers and local officials. “We can remain one of the world’s leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that will allow us to become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stem it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity.”

It will take investment from government, Obama said, promoting his budget proposal to Congress as well as the $798 billion approved in February under the ARRA legislation. “That’s how we sent a man to the moon. That’s how we were able to launch a world wide web. And it’s how we’ll build the clean energy economy that’s the key to our competitiveness in the 21st century.”

“We’ll do this because we know that the nation that leads on energy will be the nation that leads the world in the 21st century,” the President said. “That’s why, around the world, nations are racing to lead in these industries of the future. Germany is leading the world in solar power. Spain generates almost 30 percent of its power by harnessing the wind, while we manage less than one percent. And Japan is producing the batteries that currently power American hybrid cars.”

“So the problem isn’t a lack of technology. You’re producing the technology right here,” Obama said at the Edison test center, one of the two approved by the Energy Department to investigate electric car performance. “The problem is that, for decades, we have avoided doing what must be done as a nation to turn challenge into opportunity.”

As a consequence, Obama said, the U.S. imports more oil today than on September 11, 2001. The 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than a typical SUV sold in 2008, and the electric grid looks about the same as it did 50 years ago.”

The $2.4 billion in funding Obama announced is intended to help meet his goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. Americans who decide to purchase these plug-in hybrid vehicles can claim a tax credit of up to $7,500.

The administration’s approach includes jointly funding partnerships with industry to develop technologies that will accelerate the adoption of successful technologies in high volume production vehicles rather than merely producing prototypes.

Advanced batteries, capable of meeting standards for durability, performance, and weight, are a key technology for plug-in hybrid electrics and other electric vehicles.

As part of the funding announced Thursday, the Department of Energy is offering up to $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce these highly efficient batteries and their components.

DOE plans to provide assistance to construct or upgrade battery manufacturing, component, and recycling plants for lithium-ion and other advanced batteries, as well as for production factories for electric drive vehicle power electronics. These agreements will help lower the cost of battery packs, batteries, and electric propulsion systems, enabling manufacturers to establish a thriving domestic electric vehicle industry.

These advanced battery factories will also support battery manufacturing for consumer products, as well as military and utility applications.

The Department of Energy also is offering up to $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce other components needed for electric vehicles, such as electric motors and other components.

The Department of Energy is offering up to $400 million to demonstrate and evaluate plug-in hybrids and other electric infrastructure concepts such as truck stop charging stations, electric rail, and training for technicians to build and repair electric vehicles.

By contributing to the reduction of petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, these projects will advance the United States’ economic recovery, national energy security, and environmental sustainability.

DOE will also support demonstration, evaluation, and education projects to help develop the market for advanced electric drive vehicles that will get up to 100 miles per gallon, achieve a driving range of up to 40 miles without recharging and run much like today’s hybrids beyond that 40 mile range.

The funding will support demonstration projects that test a variety of vehicles, including small off-road vehicles, passenger vehicles, and trucks, in geographically and climatically diverse locations.

SOURCE: Environmental News Service

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