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Chevy Volt

Nissan Leaf
Congress is also considering more tax credits for EVs and hybrids over vocal voices for and against such measures

In the wake of what some are calling the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, many Americans are looking at energy alternatives to fossil fuels -- nuclear power, solar, wind, and geothermal -- with new eyes.  A critical part of that equation is developing vehicles that can tap those energy sources.  With the first EVs from the world's major auto companies set to launch later this year, the pressure -- and excitement -- is on for this new market.

One critical question is how to implement an EV friendly infrastructure.  Part of the charm of the gas or diesel engine is that you can fill up your tank virtually anywhere in the country within minutes.  Faster chargers could do almost that for EVs -- charging them within 15-30 minutes.  However, it will take a massive investment to deploy these chargers across the nation.

The Obama administration is pushing legislation in the Senate that would invest taxpayer money to create EV chargers and other infrastructure in 15 key areas, much like the government's investment in rail a century and a half ago.  Energy Department Assistant Secretary David Sandalow told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee states, "Starting with a smaller number (of communities) would allow us to focus resources and build a team of experts that can support a more widespread rollout.  We need to invest in 21st-century technologies."

The bill would come at a cost of $10B USD to taxpayers – many say that's a small cost, though.  Sandalow states, "The direction of the bill is a good one.  We think this moves in a very positive direction."

That direction would be towards President Obama's goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on America's streets by 2015.  The bill in the Senate, authored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and two others, would put the $10B USD towards giving $250M USD to up to 15 communities.  A House version of the bill comes in at $6.6B USD and would give $800M USD to five "deployment communities" to put 700,000 EVs on the streets.  Both bills have been criticized for including two few communities, which critics say could slow adoption.

A separate bill is even more controversial.  The bill would give tax credits or direct government-funded rebates to buyers of efficient vehicles like hybrids or electric vehicles, while fining those who buy less fuel efficient vehicles like truck and large SUVs.  The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing Detroit's Big Three carmakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and seven other automakers, opposes the measure.  

Kathryn Clay, the group's research director, states, "We believe the legislation should allow manufacturers, fuel providers and communities the flexibility to invest in multiple electric drive pathways, including fuel cell electric vehicle and related hydrogen infrastructure.  We have significant concerns about an approach that would limit investments to a handful of communities, particularly at such an early stage of electric vehicle deployment. This creates a small number of communities that would 'win' and receive significant federal dollars while the rest of country loses out."

Recent surveys indicate growing interest in electric vehicles, though.  And Nissan's initial production run of 14,000 2011 Nissan Leaf EVs has already been sold out via pre-orders.  In total, 20,000+ pre-orders have been placed.  The launch of the 2011 Chevy Volt by General Motors is anticipated to draw similar excitement later this year.

Still the movement has some informed skeptics.  Jan Kreider, an engineering professor and the founder of the University of Colorado's Joint Center for Energy Management, states, "There are inherent chemical limits to what a battery can do."

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a think tank, adds, "All-electric cars are the next big thing, and they always will be."

With vocal voices on both sides, the ball is now in Congress's court to find a consensus between the House and Senate on what, if any EV-related measures are best for Americans, and how to be encourage the new industry.

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Oh for heaven's sake...
By quiksilvr on 6/23/2010 3:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
If you're so worried about the environment, just stick this on the back of trucks and leave people alone:

RE: Oh for heaven's sake...
By bupkus on 6/23/2010 4:11:33 PM , Rating: 4
If you're so worried about the environment

Actually, I'm expecting an environmental shitstorm but just maybe not in my lifetime.
I have absolute confidence in the ideologues of "freedom without responsibility" to whine like children when they're taxed to clean up fast food wrappers from the freeways but bitch like hell when their favorite fishing hole has human feces floating on it.

I have faith in politicians choosing their own career paths with lobbyists over the interests of Americans, the need for so many people to declare "leave me alone" like a child until their jobs are moved overseas. Then "where's government when you need them."

I have faith in Americans electing representatives for all the wrong reasons.

I have faith in people choosing simple solutions that allow politicians to exploit their ignorance. BTW, that more often than not includes me. Why? Because the news services have utterly failed us. Why? Cause we prefer Jerry Springer.

Once we had a true intelligentsia; now we only have greedy CEOs who don't give a rat's ass about American ideals. Maybe they never did outside of a person's right to tear the American economy a new azzhole.

You see.... I'm a man of faith.
Thank you for listening... come again.

RE: Oh for heaven's sake...
By walk2k on 6/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: Oh for heaven's sake...
By Jeffk464 on 6/23/2010 8:22:54 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a perfect understanding of the US to me.

RE: Oh for heaven's sake...
By YashBudini on 6/23/2010 11:47:37 PM , Rating: 2
"I have faith in Americans electing representatives for all the wrong reasons."

The only problem with this statement is that it applies to both parties. Still worth a +1 however.

RE: Oh for heaven's sake...
By MindParadox on 6/23/2010 4:18:47 PM , Rating: 3
oh, i dunno, cause quite simply, its a piece of crap?

increasing the backpressure of your exhaust does three things:
one, speeds the heat time of the catylitic converter, ok, good
causes the O2 sensor to go to a different voltage range, causing the EGR to lean out the engine giving a MINIMAL increase in fuel economy ok, good

and 3, drops the overall power of the car by a rather large percentage. ooops! thats bad to most people who buy the gas guzzlers based on the overall power of the car!

RE: Oh for heaven's sake...
By HotFoot on 6/23/2010 4:52:54 PM , Rating: 2
Any minimal increase in fuel economy from a different fuel mixture is going to be easily overcome by the extra inefficiency imposed by the back-pressure. The power consumed by this exhaust device is the exhaust gas volumetric flow rate times the pressure drop across the device. It doesn't take too much for that to amount to a few HP.

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