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Chevy Volt

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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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RE: Fines
By Nfarce on 6/23/2010 4:08:59 PM , Rating: 5
why do you all buy those huge trucks in the first place?

There is a lot of misconception out there on pickup trucks. Millions of people in America use "huge" pickup trucks (that means full sized to the rest of us) for their very livelihood.

We have farmers, fishermen, construction business owners, handyman/repair business owners, maintenance business owners, landscape business owners, and just about anything else you can think of that a cute little EV Prius is not going to cut the job for.

Now there are those regular households who also own full sized trucks to tow travel trailers, boats, and their own work and car trailers. Further, said households with a truck just generally like to have a one "for the need" like getting firewood, moving appliances, and countless other things that, again, a cute little EV like a Prius won't cut it for. As one who has owned three full sized trucks, count me in all of the above.

RE: Fines
By Flunk on 6/23/2010 4:18:11 PM , Rating: 2
Then how do the Europeans get by with 90% less large truck sales?

I understand that some people genuinely need this sort of vehicle for work, I'm referring to those who don't.

RE: Fines
By integr8d on 6/23/2010 4:28:11 PM , Rating: 5
They tax everything so high that their people never have a chance to own anything that might be towed.

RE: Fines
By Flunk on 6/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: Fines
By ClownPuncher on 6/23/2010 4:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
Who says we don't need them? Who decides what I need and what I don't? The idea of punishing me, someone who uses their large vehicle for what it was intended, because some people just think they're pretty cool to own seems a bit...unconstitutional.

Freedom isn't defined by what the populace wants from the individual.

RE: Fines
By ClownPuncher on 6/23/2010 4:48:44 PM , Rating: 3
Most people in Europe live in the city, don't own any land, and have less need to build since their cultures have been established for a thousand years.

RE: Fines
By JediJeb on 6/23/2010 4:52:06 PM , Rating: 1
Most Europeans can purchase the things they need within easy delivery distance from where they purchase it. When you have to drive 50 miles or more to the nearest store, you usually want to bring what you bought back with you. Besides which uses the more fuel, driving your car to Lowe's go get lumber then having it delivered on a big truck or driving your truck to Lowe's and bringing it back yourself?

RE: Fines
By shin0bi272 on 6/24/2010 12:07:21 PM , Rating: 2
I used to live 35 miles from the nearest clothier and/or mall. So I can say you are exactly right.

Europeans should try doing a remodel when the nearest sheet rock for sale is 30-50 miles away... Try strapping 20 sheets of 4'x8' sheetrock to the top of your Mondeo! LOL or better yet your 160,000 pound mercedes!

RE: Fines
By UNHchabo on 6/23/2010 5:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
Most Europeans who actually do try to tow something use a car that's far too small to do the job properly.

This is why the Top Gear presenters are always ranting about caravans and horse trailers all going 20mph under the speed limit; it's because people take their normal commuter car with a 1.8L engine, and try to haul 3 or 4 tons of weight with it. Not only that, hauling that much weight is probably going to take more fuel with a smaller engine that has to rev like crazy than if you had a larger engine with more torque, that was able to essentially idle while pulling that load.

Let's take England, as a case in point, and compare it with the region of New England, in the northeast US. England is about twice the area of New England, but with four times the population. This means that despite New England being a fairly well-settled region (compared with Wyoming, for instance), there's more land available per person. Because of this, even people in this region have more room for multiple vehicles. If someone wants to own a small, efficient commuter car, and also own a pickup for when they need to haul things, they have more room to do so, because storage space is cheaper.

RE: Fines
By Nfarce on 6/23/2010 8:03:40 PM , Rating: 1
Top Gear is hilarious and one of my favorite automotive TV shows. If you ever see pictures of some little car overloaded with junk to where the rear bumper is about to touch the ground, you can just about gaurantee it's not in America with the exception of maybe West Virginia or rural Alabama.

But these comments about what Europeans use and what Americans need is laughable. I've been to Germany, Austria, France, and Italy. Everything is close in. Some cities and neighborhoods people don't even need cars. And in said cities and neighborhoods you can toss a stick of butter through the window to your neighbor.

RE: Fines
By invidious on 6/23/2010 4:23:12 PM , Rating: 2
If someone wants to buy a truck they don't need to justify it to anyone else. At least most of them are supporting the American auto industry.

The last thing this country needs is an artifically supported EV market that will collapse once the federal subsidies dry up. The last time the democrats did this was on the housing market and look how that turned out.

RE: Fines
By gamerk2 on 6/23/2010 4:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, considering housing prices were relativly stable under the entire Clinton white house (rising from an average of about $120k to about $160k toward the end of his term). During the Bush years, we get more then a doubling of that (over $400k at one point!).

My point being, a classic Supply Side bubble. Ironically, the average price of a house is back down to about $180k, or about where they SHOULD be. In short: I doubt we'll see any recovery, as we're already at the proper value for housing [at least, unless wages start to rise, which I don't see happening anytime soon].

RE: Fines
By AEvangel on 6/23/2010 4:53:48 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, considering housing prices were relativly stable under the entire Clinton white house (rising from an average of about $120k to about $160k toward the end of his term). During the Bush years, we get more then a doubling of that (over $400k at one point!).

Yes, your right they were, but it was because of a Clinton initiative passed with a Republican House and Senate that allowed FNMA and FHLMC to make loans for people who couldn't afford them. Thus leading to the Housing bubble under Bush which resulted in the economic downfall under Obama.

Please stop trying to insinuate Democrats or Republicans as some type of good guy/bad guy, their all the same corporate puppets.

RE: Fines
By Reclaimer77 on 6/23/2010 6:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yes so instead of bubbles with highs and lows, let's depress the economy into one huge "stable" recession where the good times never happen.


"Bubbles" are just another Liberal talking point keyword. Bubbles aren't inherently bad or good. They are just reality. Any measures to stop "bubbles" will only result in an economic downturn.

Suppressing growth isn't the answer Gamerk2.

RE: Fines
By shin0bi272 on 6/24/2010 12:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
Go look up FAS157 and super impose the dates between when that bill was passed (by democrats) and repealed (by democrats) with the stock market.

Your supposition is that clinton didnt try to socialize medicine and didnt raise taxes by the largest margin in decades before the republicans took over both houses of congress. Your supposition is wrong... If clinton had gotten his way the entire economy would have collapsed at the end of the millennium due to the weight of the government. Its the cloward and piven strategy...

They were 60's radicals who wanted socialism to take over the government but knew it couldnt happen until capitalism got blamed for collapsing the economy (something which some people ... probably you... blame on the collapse of 08). So they designed a system where you inflate the number of poor people dependent on the government for their every need and that will collapse the system... which they can then blame on capitalism not taking care of the poor and put socialist in charge.

RE: Fines
By walk2k on 6/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: Fines
By Nfarce on 6/23/2010 7:59:02 PM , Rating: 5
I just think you should have to have a contractor's license or other legit business to own a pickup truck

Spoken like a true fascist liberal wingnut.

As far as towing boats etc... those are luxury items and should be taxed as such.

They already are, genius. They are taxed at purchase and taxed annually by the state they are registered in. Kinda like cars.

RE: Fines
By shin0bi272 on 6/24/2010 12:31:04 PM , Rating: 1
I hope that something you want is taxed out of your price range due to some lobbyist or environmentalist group not liking it. There's lots of plastic in those video games you undoubtedly play 24/7 when youre not in class with the rest of your teenage friends... Plastic comes from oil so lets tax video games and consoles at 1000%! Are you pissed off now? Your favorite past time is being called evil because someone else doesnt like it. Your means of escape from reality is being taxed an obscene amount because of people with deep pockets and a D in math. Are you pissed off yet? How about we start taxing KY jelly so you and your boyfriend cant afford it and you and he have to rape each others assholes dry because ky is a petrolium based product and it comes in a plastic tube... So it must be taxed! How about 500 dollars a tube? Are you pissed off yet?

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