As a long-term answer to rising gas prices, President Obama launched EV-Everywhere, a challenge to developers to create electric vehicles (EVs) that cost less than today's gas-powered cars within a decade.
The goal is for the US to be the first in the world to produce a 5-passenger affordable American-made EV that has a payback period of under 5 years. It would have sufficient range and fast-charging ability to enable average Americans to meet their daily transportation needs more conveniently and at lower cost.
Fueling up electric vehicles costs less than $1 per gallon. The EPA recently rated the Ford Focus Electric as getting 105 miles per gallon equivalent. EVs also have much reduced maintenance costs and there's no need to go to a gas station because the cars can be charged at home.
Under the EV Everywhere Challenge, America's scientists, engineers, and businesses will work collaboratively to make electric vehicles more affordable and convenient.
The biggest goal is to bring the price down to buy an EV. The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, the Office of Science, and ARPA-E will lead the initiative. They'll shoot for dramatic technological and cost improvements in batteries, electric motors, power electronics, light-weight structures, and fast charging technology. Industry and universities will also participate.
Chevy Volt Snubbed as "Obamamobile"
"Pity the Chevy Volt," says Bloomberg. "Ever since it became known that the plug-in hybrid car's batteries had burst into flames after government crash tests, it became the whipping boy of Republican politicians." (government tests show the car isn't dangerous).
"Conservatives equate the Volt with everything from government bailouts to radical left-wing environmentalism," says Bloomberg.
"Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features, we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag," said GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson during a Congressional hearing on the Volt in January. "And that, sadly, is what the Volt has become."
Newt Gingrich faults the Volt because it doesn't have space for a gun rack! and Mitt Romney says it's "an idea whose time has not come."
Akerson says that's been hurting sales because Chevy customers tend to lean conservative. GM announced this week that it would stop production temporarily until it sells the Volts it's already made.
7,671 Volts sold last year, falling short of GM's 10,000 target. This year, 1,600 Volts have sold so far - the target is 45,000 sales in the U.S. this year.
Buyers from the political right won't buy a car that is in anyway perceived as being associated with this administration, says Art Spinella, who studies new car buyers as president of CNW Marketing Research.
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