This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 02, 2011

Biden Spotlights New Initiatives for Advanced Technology Vehicles

Following up on one clean energy goal in President Obama's 2011 State of the Union speech, Vice President Biden outlined on January 26 a series of new initiatives to support advanced technology vehicles. "We're not just creating new jobs but sparking whole new industries that will ensure our competitiveness for decades to come—industries like electric vehicle manufacturing," he said. His remarks amplified the President's earlier call for the United States to become the first country to put one million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015. Biden said that the Administration's proposed budget will boost next-generation vehicle technologies by expanding funding for those technologies by almost 90% to nearly $590 million while at the same time enhancing existing tax incentives for consumers. And in keeping with the President's pledge to double the number of DOE "energy innovation hubs," the Administration plans to create a new hub devoted to improving batteries and energy storage for vehicles.

The three new initiatives announced by Biden include making electric vehicles (EV) more affordable by transforming the existing $7,500 tax credit into a rebate will give consumers the ability to receive this benefit at the point of sale, similar to "Cash for Clunkers" program; advancing innovative vehicle and battery technologies through increased research and development by broadening R&D investments by more than 30% in technologies such as batteries and electric drives; and rewarding communities for leadership in reducing regulatory barriers and developing comprehensive electric vehicle-friendly infrastructure. To support that final initiative, DOE is beginning a competitive program to help communities across the country become early EV adopters through regulatory streamlining, infrastructure investments, vehicle fleet conversions, deployment of EV incentives, and workforce training. The FY 2012 Budget will expand this initiative so that that up to 30 communities across the country would receive grants of up to $10 million each on the basis of their ability to demonstrate concrete reforms and use the funds to help catalyze EV deployment. The one million-vehicle target would reduce dependence on foreign oil and lead to a reduction in oil consumption of about 750 million barrels through 2030.

The latest announced initiatives use the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a foundation. The Recovery Act will help cut battery costs in half and will make the United States a global leader in advanced battery production. The Recovery Act is also supporting the deployment of infrastructure for advanced technology vehicles. Additionally, the General Services Administration is preparing an initial purchase of 100 plug-in hybrid EVs that are anticipated to be delivered in 2011 together with more than 40,000 alternative-fueled and fuel-efficient vehicles that will replace less-efficient vehicles at federal agencies. See the DOE press release.