Energy Secretary Steven Chu is President Obama’s front man when it comes to representing the nation’s commitment to electric vehicles. Before reporters at the Washington Auto Show, Chu maintained that despite poor sales in 2012, the U.S. plans to push on with EV production. He noted that one of the key ways EV development will be improved is to lower the price of EV batteries without sacrificing technical capabilities.
One million EV batteries by 2015
President Obama’s goal is for the U.S. Auto industry to get at least 1 million EVs on the roads by 2015. A $2.4 billion stimulus grant for EV battery makers and consumer tax credit hikes of $10,000 for an EV are both part of Obama’s program.
“It’s ambitious, but we’ll see what happens,” Chu told reporters.
Reducing the price of EV batteries in such vehicles as the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus EV will be the primary focus in cutting the price of such vehicles, which are traditionally about twice as expensive as similar small vehicles.
“For the engineers in the room or those who follow this, you might be saying to yourself, ‘What are they smoking’” Chu said of EV battery price-cutting plans. “We’re not smoking anything…. They are ambitious goals but they are achievable goals.”
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The expanding role of EVs
Chu spoke of the U.S. being neutral as to fuel choice, so long as the option that succeed is a green source other than petroleum. Yet he also spoke encouragingly of the changing state of EV batteries and the “stop-start” technology that he predicts will become widespread over the next decade.
“We’re so focused on improving the technology,” he said. “The rate of progress in batteries is just taking off.”
According to Chu, 13 major U.S. employers and eight employment organizations have joined the Workplace Charging Challenge, which has expanded access to EV charging stations at work sites. Companies ranging from 3M and Chrysler to GE, Google, San Diego Gas & Electric and Verizon have provided EV charging facilities to employees, and more companies are expected to follow suit in the coming years.
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