-- The Senate Energy Committee has approved a $3.6 billion bill
to boost electric vehicles. The bill approved on a 19-4 vote this morning is a
scaled-back version of an $11 billion bill first proposed in May. But its fate is
still in doubt as Senate Democrats are debating whether to include new
electric vehicle funding as part of an energy bill they hope to approve before
Congress goes home next month.
Separately, the committee approved a bill introduced by Sen. Debbie
Stabenow, D-Lansing, that would extend the $25 billion retooling loan
program for advanced technology vehicles. But the Senate hasn't yet said
how much more it might add to the program.
The Stabenow measure expands the eligibility of vehicle technologies that
would qualify for the program, including natural gas vehicles. It would also
urge the Energy Department to carry out research programs for advanced
technologies for vehicles, and to study whether the federal government
could convert thousands of government vehicles to natural gas power.
The Stabenow measure would also make medium- and heavy-duty trucks
eligible for the program. The bill approved by the Energy Committee, which
was authored by U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., seeks to promote the
deployment of plug-in electric vehicles through a series of "deployment
The Promoting Electric Vehicle Act of 2010, would extend and expand national
incentives to accelerate the introduction of electric vehicles. "Passing this
legislation will strengthen our national security and improve the air we
breathe, while relying on our abundant and diverse electricity supply to
fuel our cars," Dorgan said. "We are now one step closer to dramatically
reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil that hurts our economy,
helps our enemies and puts our security at risk. Domestic petroleum will
always be an important part of our country's energy strategy, but we also
must invest in alternative energy approaches including electric cars."
The bill would create "deployment communities" across the country, where
targeted incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure
systems would help demonstrate rapid market penetration and determine
what best practices would be helpful for nationwide deployment of electric
Dorgan wants to electrify half its cars and trucks by 2030, which if achieved,
would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third. Advocates of electric
vehicles praised the vote.
"Republicans and Democrats have taken another critical step toward finally
ending our nation's dangerous dependence on oil," said Robbie Diamond,
president of the Electrification Coalition.
Congress has already set aside billions of dollars to boost electric vehicles,
including $2.4 billion in grants for electric vehicle and battery research. It
also approved a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles.
Wheego On Parade
Bruce Sharp drove his Wheego Whip in Utah’s 3rd
largest parade, the
Bountiful Handcart Days:
This month’s question for Wheego CEO Mike McQuary is:
Q: “Chevy is touting their Volt as offering ‘Peace of mind’. What do you
say to that?”
“I think it's a pretty cheap shot for Chevrolet to infer that "range
anxiety" or what I like to call "OA" (Odometer Anxiety) is a good reason to
buy a Volt Hybrid instead of a purely electric car. So let's review.
First off everyone needs to be reminded that the Chevy Volt is not an electric
car. It is a Generation 2 Hybrid- it has an exhaust system that puts out
carbon monoxide, it has an (albeit small) internal combustion engine, and
you fill it with gasoline. It certainly is not 'peace of mind' for anyone who
worries about climate change or ending our dependency on foreign oil. So
if America is addicted to foreign oil, then the Chevy Volt is the equivalent of
trading a heroin addiction for a methadone addiction. If you are going to
kick the habit of oil addiction, you need to be all-electric. Tesla, Wheego
and Nissan are committed to real change.
So following their logic, for real 'peace of mind' why not just hire a chase car
to follow you around? It makes as much sense to me as having a gasoline
engine on board and touting yourself as an environmentally conscious
alternative. "With their 'peace of mind' emphasis, the Chevy Volt is clearly
insinuating that the American public is not smart enough to plan and
manage their personal transportation around a fixed number of electric car
miles each charge. I think most Americans are smart enough, and care
enough about the environment, that they will put in the effort to not need
a set of gasoline powered, exhaust spewing training wheels on their car.
However some Americans may not be smart enough, or want to be
bothered enough to do this. To appeal to them, maybe Chevrolet should
switch their Volt advertising campaign to 'feeble of mind'!”
BNet’s Jim Motavalli looks into his crystal ball: