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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 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.

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