GM has high hopes riding on the Chevy Volt, its flagship-vehicle-to-be. Its American competitors -- Chrysler and Ford -- have both stated plans to aggressively pursue the development of electric vehicles. Together, they send a clear message -- electric vehicle technology appears to be the future of the automotive industry in the U.S.
President Barack Obama and the federal government agree. President Obama, speaking at an Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, California, announced plans for a $2.4B USD infusion into the domestic electric vehicle industry. He stated, "We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad or we can create them here in America and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity."
He considers electric vehicles a critical component to eliminating American reliance on oil from unstable foreign sources like the Middle East. He states, "The nation that leads on energy will be the nation that leads the world in the 21st century. That's why, around the world, nations are racing to lead in these industries of the future."
He says that the investment in the auto industry will yield tens of thousands of jobs and new technology. Battery technology is one critical area of improvement targeted by the plan. In addition, the plan would give a $7,500 tax credit to anyone purchasing a plug-in hybrid vehicle. President Obama says the plan will help America reach the goal of having a million electric cars on the road by 2015.
While the U.S. leads the world in wind power, President Obama reinforced that the U.S. needs to continue to seize alternative energy leadership. He states, "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."
The latter criticism is certainly true -- both of the competitors of GM's Chevy Volt battery contract produce their cells in Asia, and the majority of the cells that go into mild hybrids are produced and developed in Japan, China, or South Korea, as well. The federal and state governments here in the U.S. hope that new funding will help change this, bring battery cell production and development back into the U.S.
The new funding for electric vehicles will be divided between the automakers and the parts suppliers. The automakers will receive $1.5B USD, while parts makers who are building electronic vehicle components will get $500M USD. The remaining $400M USD will be devoted to research and building infrastructure. Both electric vehicle repair centers and community charging stations are targets for this funding.
The funds will be drawn from the $787B USD economic stimulus law.