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How will White House get 1M electric cars on road by 2015?

By Michael Cooney
January 28, 2011 11:35 AM ET

Network World - The White House has outlined a wide-ranging plan of putting 1 million what it calls advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015. Most observers would say that is a good start, but is it reasonably doable?

The next White House budget will include a number of investments and enticements to make the goal achievable in theory. Of course, not all of the provisions are likely to make the cut.

FOR MORE: Seven advanced car technologies the government wants now 

The highlights from the White House proposal, though, are intriguing:

• Making electric vehicles more affordable and accessible for American consumers: A transformation of 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." The current individual credit will be reformed into a tax credit claimable by dealers or financers with clear transparency requirements to ensure the benefit of the credit is passed on to consumers.

• Advancing innovative vehicle and battery technologies through increased R&D: Increased investments in R&D will be critical to the deployment of new technology. ARRA and prior year investments are already making progress on advanced technology vehicles through research initiatives, for instance, an ARPA-E grant to develop a battery that will go 300 miles on a single charge. This year's budget will significantly broaden R&D investments in technologies like batteries and electric drives -- including an over 30% increase in support for vehicle technology R&D and a new Energy Innovation Hub devoted to improving batteries and energy storage for vehicles and beyond.

• Rewarding communities for leadership in reducing regulatory barriers and developing comprehensive electric vehicle-friendly infrastructure: The Department of Energy is beginning a competitive program to help communities across the country become early adopters of electric vehicles through regulatory streamlining, infrastructure investments, vehicle fleet conversions, deployment of EV incentives (e.g., parking, HOV access) partnerships with major employers/retailers, and workforce training. The FY 2012 budget will expand this initiative so 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 electric vehicle deployment.

The government also said it is preparing an initial purchase of 100 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are anticipated to be delivered in 2011 together with more than 40,000 alternative-fueled and fuel-efficient vehicles that will replace aging and less-efficient sedans, trucks, tankers and wreckers for federal agencies across the country. GSA's investments in cleaner vehicle technologies help to spur growth in the emerging domestic plug-in hybrid electric vehicle market.

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Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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