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White House Wants 1M Electric Cars By 2015 603

Posted by Soulskill
from the way-too-many-and-yet-way-too-few dept.
coondoggie writes "The White House has outlined a wide-ranging plan for putting one million of 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."
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White House Wants 1M Electric Cars By 2015

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Friday January 28, 2011 @01:59PM (#35034906) Journal

    Most observers would say that is a good start, but is it reasonably doable?

    First of all I realize you just copy/pasted the first paragraph from the article but "most observers" sounds a bit like weasel words and I didn't see where in the article anyone was calling this a "good start" nor can I think of anyone who would say that. This (like a lot of them) is a pretty polarizing issue and I'd bet "most people" are going to end up claiming it to be a waste of taxpayer money or too little too late. Not a whole lot of moderation out there these days in political views.

    Secondly, sure it is achievable and you don't even have to raise taxes. Shift some of the oil subsidies [nytimes.com] toward this initiative. If you're afraid of losing jobs in the oil industry, include stipulations of domestic job creation and opportunities on these investments. I think Obama already promised to shrink oil subsidies down so that over the next decade $20 billion is saved by the taxpayer -- why not use that for this? Whether or not it's going to actually achieve a desired effect, now that's the real debate. Not whether or not it's 'doable.'

    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:22PM (#35035288) Homepage Journal
      Trouble is...even shifting money around is not what we need to be doing right now. We need to CUT spending...and drastically!! Cut things and use that to pay down the debt.

      I just heard on the news in the break room, that while the US still just barely has the top credit rating...they tell us that if we don't get the deficit under control pronto, they're gonna drop our credit rating.

      Man, you think things are bad now...wait till THAT shoe drops.

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:48PM (#35035696) Journal

        I just heard on the news in the break room, that while the US still just barely has the top credit rating...they tell us that if we don't get the deficit under control pronto, they're gonna drop our credit rating.

        Man, you think things are bad now...wait till THAT shoe drops.

        I'm no economist but my take on things is: good. If that happens, the sooner the better because 1) we're not going to ever stop spending until it happens and 2) the longer we keep spending, the more exacerbated it's going to be when that "shoe drops." So do it now and get it over with, it's time for us to swallow our own medicine/reap what we've sewn/<bad metaphor here>.

        I do get a kick out of these "oooh boy, you just wait" style omens when it comes to the economy. A long time ago my uncle set me straight about how China is artificially keeping the yuan low compared to the dollar so they can sell us cheap crap and undercut any American company. He was all "long run this" and "crisis that." He promised me one day Wal-Mart was going to find itself on top of this massive infrastructure across the country with no cheap Chinese goods to fill its shelves with because the USA and other nations had wised up and stopped this market manipulation. That was ... four or five years ago? I spoke with him again over Christmas and he had exactly the same warning for me. Well, when does it hit?

        The fact is, countries should not be investing in our money market. We're no "habitual defaulter" like Greece but we're being very stupid with our money and we should pay for that. You might be surprised to hear an American say this but: stop investing in us. Don't reward stupidity. Don't let us keep our perceived worth artificially high via bogus credit ratings. It's just as dangerous as China's artificially low yuan.

        Our deficit is the greatest shame in my eyes and the blackest mark on my generation. Starting with Reagan, continuing through every president and transcending political lines, it has gotten completely out of control. Social Security is a ticking time bomb. Our patchwork on the financial and housing crisis is also a ticking time bomb. We're on borrowed time here and I have the gut feeling we would be better off paying sooner rather than later.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          Trouble is...we DID have a depression once...

          I don't wanna risk that in MY lifetime...

      • Or raise taxes.

        We can only cut so much.
        Shifting money around a thing we need to do right now, as well as take care of our deficit.

        • by optimus2861 (760680) on Friday January 28, 2011 @03:56PM (#35036812)
          "Can only cut so much"? In 2005, the US federal government spent $2.47 trillion. Today the figure is $3.72 trillion. The fed.gov. hasn't even tried to cut since Clinton left office. Bush II had a bad enough fiscal record but Obama's making him look like a piker.
        • That's right because perpetually increasing the spending and raising money through only ways government can, i.e. taxes, debt and inflation (all taxes by another name) is the way to grow the economy. Debt per taxpayer was $55K in 2000, it is $127K not and projected to be $184K in 5 years at current rates. But who cares, it is only our children who will be paying it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan667 (564390)
        interesting everyone that wants to cut spending never wants to cut defense spending that now accounts for more of the budget than everything else combined.
        • by c6gunner (950153) on Friday January 28, 2011 @04:30PM (#35037278)

          defense spending that now accounts for more of the budget than everything else combined.

          You know, no matter how often you repeat a lie, it doesn't actually become true. $680 billions is NOT more than half of $3.5 trillion. Even if you include non-military defense spending, the number doesn't reach half, and most of the increase is due to interest on past debts. So since you can't exactly "cut" debt-payments, you're talking about slashing a budget which takes up about a quarter of the federal budget, and includes not only the military but also neat programs like NASA, various energy infrastructure requirements, and law-enforcement counter-terrorism operations.

          But, of course, if you're a sandal-wearing perma-fried hippie, it's much easier to just yell "MORE THAN HALF!" and ignore the actual numbers. It's kinda hard to get the anti-war crowd frothing at the mouth when you just stick to the facts.

  • to the flying cars we were promised 10 years ago. We are supposed to be in the future now, but no flying cars is kinda weak sauce
    • Re:1 step closer... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cwix (1671282) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:06PM (#35035018)

      Ive seen the way people drive when they are constrained by gravity. I would hate to see the way people drive when they could drive anywhere they chose. Cars over your house, cars in the woods, cars over lakes. Nuhh huh, you can keep your flying cars.

      • by tsa (15680) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:28PM (#35035380) Homepage

        Cars in your house, in the woods and in the lakes is what you mean, I guess.

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Why is it when talk of flying cars comes up, people always assume that the idiots on the ground would instantly qualify to become idiots in the air? There is an existing system of air traffic rules and regulations. Even if they became much more accessible, only a fraction of the people who currently drive would qualify to operate a flying car. Which basically means, by in large, the people who safely operate vehicles today would be the ones safely operating flying cars tomorrow. And as a benefit, traffic on

  • Why? (Score:4, Funny)

    by aclarke (307017) <`spam' `at' `clarke.ca'> on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:01PM (#35034932) Homepage
    Why does the White House need (sticks pinky to mouth) ONE MILLION electric cars?
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:04PM (#35034968) Homepage

    to match?

    Provide me w/ a chance to fold the solar cell garage into a home improvement loan and it becomes a lot more affordable, and having the solar cells eases the strain which charging so many electric vehicles would add to the electric grid.

    William

    • Strain on the Grid (Score:4, Informative)

      by alexander_686 (957440) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:13PM (#35035126)

      If it’s done right there would not be any strain.

      You can have the car charge during off peak hours. i.e. at night. This would add little strain to the infrastructure. Electricity also tends to be cheaper then. [Once again, off peak hours]. You just need to make it easy for the consumer so the plug it in when they come home put it does not start charging until 2 a.m.

      I think that Siemens even research using car batteries as a distributive back up power source. Now that would require some upgrades to our gird.

      • by Idbar (1034346)
        There's people designing power plugs that provide and receive power, so you can make your car into a power plant and provide electricity to your house.

        I know at least a couple of guys at the University of Delaware [inhabitat.com] working on it.
      • by zero_out (1705074) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:31PM (#35035406)

        Except that many parts of the grid heat up during peak hours, and the engineers who designed it did so with a dependency on low power consumption at night, which would allow them to cool down. If you have a bunch of cars in an area charging at night, there won't be enough time for the transformers (etc.) to cool off before companies open shop in the morning and start heating those components up even more. Then one day, BOOM!

        It's not just peak performance of the grid that matters, it's the minimum, peak, mean, and average.

  • by Ranger (1783) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:04PM (#35034976) Homepage
    electric golf carts advanced and road safe. Mission accomplished.

    Well, I think it is doable. How many hybrid vehicles are there on the road now? I'd imagine quite a few.
  • by nomadic (141991)
    Are there even 1 million people working in the White House who will drive them?
  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:07PM (#35035028)

    There won't be a million people left in the country who can afford them in 2015!

    I'm referring to the Mayan Apocalypse of course, the economic recover is totally working.

  • by syntap (242090) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:07PM (#35035030)

    That will get demand to outstrip capacity, and automakers will adjust production to compensate. Leave diesel off the tax for now so the trucking industry won't be destroyed in the process. Presto, lots of new electric cars on the roads. If that doesn't happen, the highway trust fund will be flush enough with cash to take care of just about any road infrastructure need.

    If we're serious about Middle East dependencies and carbon footprint, then we need to act serious.

    • I suspect that would result in a million new bicycle commuters a lot quicker than a million electric cars. I am all for it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This will result in a million diesel cars a lot faster than a million electric cars.

      • by Stargoat (658863) *

        That's fine. Current diesel cars are cleaner than petrol cars. They also get about 25 to 50% more MPG, meaning they are cheaper to own. Also, the diesel engine is simpler and therefore inherently more reliable than the petrol engine.

    • Maybe not $5 per gallon but I agree with your point. Way too many huge SUV's / large trucks in my area. Nowadays people get them as a defensive measure because "everyone else" has a huge vehicle. It's trending larger and larger every year; I'm not going to be surprised when dump trucks become the norm... unless you make it prohibitively expensive to do that.

      Right now it's "in season" here and the parking lot is full of huge SUV's from out-of-state... and most of those people are single or retired so it's n
      • by ScentCone (795499)
        It's trending larger and larger every year

        Citation? If you bother looking into it, you'll see that SUV and light truck sales are way off from years past.

        There's got to be a way to make it not affect those in need while giving a disincentive to those who want to drive tanks.

        Yes, it's called "tax loopholes," and it requires a huge new IRS bureaucracy, puts a giant paperwork burden on the very people (usually, small businesses like landscapers, dog groomers, carpenters) that you want to "protect," an
      • by Nadaka (224565)

        I find my (small) truck to be extremely useful. I find cause to move stuff at least once a month. I was originally planning on getting a Hi-Jet mini-truck, but its not allowed to be imported with the full 4-5 gears and can not be licensed in some states and in others it isn't allowed on the highway. Settled for the smallest Dakota instead.

      • by afidel (530433) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:33PM (#35035450)
        My dad said we should add 10c per gallon to the gas tax every year, in 1991 after the first Gulf War. If we had done that we would have gas prices comparable to Europe and thus have the more efficient vehicle fleet they have. Putting a huge tax on gas will get you voted out of office in the next election, put a slow but steady tax in and it will just change buying habits over time.
        • How refreshing to hear someone talk about the "slowly boiled frog" as though it were a good thing, for a change.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:47PM (#35035682) Homepage Journal
        Trouble is...when exactly did taxes evolve to become a method for the government to influence citizen behavior??

        Rather than keep progressing down this road, lets take away all incentive via tax.

        Taxes should be for nothing more than funding the common govt functionality, and most of it should reside a the state level, since the state is closer to its citizens and can more efficiently fill their needs in a more targeted way.

        But lets take ALL tax breaks away that try to iinfluence behavior. Stop child credits. Stop house deductions...get rid of all deductiions really...lets get to more a a fair or flat type (type, I'm game for some mods, not the strict definition) of tax where everyone just pays their fair share. We'd have more tax income coming in, and everyone would likely end up paying less in total taxes.

        Lets to to where we use taxation ONLY to fund the govt, and lets get the govt out of the business of trying to tell me how to live and run my life!

      • Excellent post. We should tax the living hell out of giant SUVs and trucks (in addition to upping gas prices and tax penalties for vehicles with low fuel economy). They added tax for "luxury" vehicles in the 90s...why not broaden the definition and tax the crap out of unweildy SUVs and trucks (with exemptions for people who use them primarily for work).

        Getting a larger vehicle out of safety concerns is stupid and short-sighted. It's hard to be safe in a vehicle that does not drive safely. People with this

    • Up the gas tax five dollars for passenger vehicles

      Or we could not do that and keep our economy going. My view is that there's a very good chance that oil prices will go up in the not so distant future. That will be the time to switch from oil-based fuel to one of the alternatives we have already cultivated. I see no reason to rush things.

    • Upping gasoline prices to stimulate the purchase of new vehicles sounds like something that the marketing droids at Ford or GM would come up with. Here is where that logic falls flat: it incorrectly assumes that motivation to purchase a new car is the ONLY thing stopping people from buying them. For the vast majority of Americans, this is not the case. I personally - and virtually all of my friends and relatives - are not in a position to purchase a new car. In addition to not having enough credit to justif

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:46PM (#35035674) Homepage

      Leave diesel off the tax for now so the trucking industry won't be destroyed in the process.

      Here's the thing - if we're serious about cutting carbon emissions and oil dependency, a lot of the trucking industry needs to be on the long-term chopping block. If you want to transport goods in a way that minimizes the use of fuel, you'd do something like:
      1. Put everything in standard shipping containers so you can easily shift it between different transport methods.
      2. If it's coming from a foreign country or island territory, ship it to a convenient port.
      3. Take it from the port via rail to the rail yard nearest its destination, unless its destination is near enough to the port that that's closer than any rail yard.
      4. Truck it from the rail yard or port to its destination.

      There's absolutely no good reason for trucks to have to transport things long distances. The reason it's common now has a lot to do with the highway system externalizing the cost of building and maintaining long-distance trucking's transport network. To fix that, you'd need to go for higher diesel taxes.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:09PM (#35035066) Homepage

    So how are they going to do it when the current "legal" electric cars cost so much that only the rich can afford them (Yes $40,000 = rich mans car)??

    Are they going to subsidize them so that $20,000 credit goes to everyone that buys one? so that means we all pay for them while we make rich fat cats richer on the public teat?

    Are they going to force manufacturers to sell them for reasonable prices?

    OR will they repeal a lot of the STUPID automotive safety regulations that are in place to keep foreign cars out of the USA market and increase the prices of the ones that are here by adding a ton of un-necessary crap?

    How the hell is the white house going to accomplish this without making significant changes to current automotive and import laws?

    • By getting the rich to buy enough to bring the price down. Thats how.

      At one point the Ammana Radar Range cost thousands of dollars, now a microwave oven can be had for $150. Same for DVD players and Gawd knows how many other things.

      The rest of your post is equally poor in reasoning and understanding.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Excuse me? I'm highly educated in automotive design, please explain how I am "poor in reasoning and understanding"

        A SUPER example of the useless automotive safety laws is how it took a decade to get the SMART FourTwo imported into the USA. by "US" standard it was unsafe. yet it proved it's safety in 30 countries including Canada for a long time. A large number of very safe cars sold in europe are not sold here because of ridiculous laws regarding "Safety".

        As to reasoning, Electric cars, are overpriced a

    • by sorak (246725)

      Their goal is to get 1 million cars on the road. In a country with 300 million people, that is one third of one percent. Granted, a large percentage of the population consists of children, non-drivers, or people who, five years from now will still be driving the car they own today, but getting one third of one percent of the population to buy an expensive vehicle is not that unreasonable. The question is, will Obama actually try to make it happen?

  • And who does Obama think he is, a czar from old pre-Soviet Russia? Electric cars will succeed or fail based on their utility to actual customers, not because of some cockamamie subsidy scheme.
    • Big Oil has discouraged disruptive innovation for decades now. Electric Cars face the Linux problem of barriers to mindshare until .gov decides to ditch the favorable deals Big Oil worked out in the 70's and 80's.

      • Oh for Pete's sake. Electric cars face the same problem every other consumer product does: presenting the consumer with enough perceived value so that the consumer willingly trades a certain amount of cash for it.

        I mean, you do realize that research on electric cars is taking place ALL OVER THE WORLD, right?

        Google [google.com] (Hint: THIRTEEN MILLION, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND results.)

        Someone in Big Oil's Innovative Research Disruption Unit seriously, seriously needs to be fired.

        -aj

    • Yeah because that's [google.com] never happened before
    • by ScentCone (795499)
      You obviously weren't watching the State Of The Union address, in which Obama clearly and plainly stated that the government is the engine of the economy. He's done us the kind favor of finally just coming right out and saying it, in public. Obviously, he has a lot of supporters that want it to be that way. But many people, if they stop to really think about what that means, will understand what an idealogical train wreck he represents.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:10PM (#35035074)

    If he has to fly anywhere, he takes a 747 (Airforce one) and an accompanying cargo plane for all of his gear and support infrastructure.

    He takes Marine One (a helicopter) from the WhiteHouse to the airforce base where Airforce One resides.

    How about he sets an example and tries to reduce his "carbon footprint."

  • They have to foist impossible numbers yet again via bogus public relation stunts like this legislation? Does anyone remember the past 38+ years since the oil/gas shortages of OPEC when they had less than 30% importation to the US of our daily use, and now we are 56% foreign oil dependent? Americans must suffer ADHD at a low and high level, personal and governmental. The current administration is saying what? That they are going to fund research for alternative fuel systems/consumption models and product
  • Sign me up... maybe. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jethro (14165) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:16PM (#35035172) Homepage

    I'd love an all-electric vehicle.

    Except for a couple of things (I think).

    I drive a hybrid car now, and in the LOVELY Minnesota winter, the batteries just DIE. I'm not kidding, they've had to be replaced. Even when they work my mileage almost halves in the winter. This makes me a it worried about an all-electric vehicle. A surprise "Hey your vehicle's range just dropped form 100 miles to 50 miles with no notice!!!!" is NOT a good thing.

    Second, I want to be able to plug the thing into a regular ol' outlet.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Keep your batteries warm.

    • by Spoke (6112)

      I drive a hybrid car now, and in the LOVELY Minnesota winter, the batteries just DIE. I'm not kidding, they've had to be replaced.

      Out of curiousity - what type of hybrid do you drive exactly? While the batteries used in current hybrids (NiMH) are definitely lacking in extreme cold temps like you get, they shouldn't fail because of it if the battery management system system is doing it's job. I've never heard of a Toyota hybrid's battery dying because of the cold...

      Even when they work my mileage almost hal

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:18PM (#35035202)

    Companies need to make a compelling (yet affordable) electric car for me. That probably means the government needs to provide subsidies/incentives of some sort, because until there are buyers, there won't be models available, but until there are models available, there won't be buyers.

    The Leaf could be the best car in the world, but it's fuuuuuugly and too small. The Volt is nice looking, yet is priced like a BMW 3 series, but probably assembled like, well, a GM product.

    Hello, Honda, Toyota, Ford.......are you listening? Build me a 4 door hatchback (like a Mazda 3, or Ford Focus) electric vehicle with a decent power and range for under $30k and I'll sign the purchase agreement right now.

    I want an electric car. I don't want a Leaf or a Volt (for the reasons above). I'll buy one once there are more compelling models to chose from.

  • by fwarren (579763) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:19PM (#35035234) Homepage

    Really. Roads are paid for by taxed gas. The more gas you use, the more you pay for road improvements. It would be logical if you had metered power for charing cars that was taxed for road repairs. However I hold the much lower view of what they will want to do is to place GPS units on the cars so they can tax them by actual mileage. This then opens the door for insurance companys to track you, to be billed and ticked for speeding and general government oversite into your life. Such as "that is 4 trips to McDoanlds this week, keep it up and we will charge more for health care." Then with the foot in the door, they will go after adding GPS to regular cars and trucks.

    Beyond that the "greeness" of the cars are up for debate. Considering what it takes to make a battery, what to do with them when they go bad, and how much of a toxic trouble they are in an accident. Then we can talk cost. An electric car starts at $40,000 and will need $5,000 or more in new batteries every 5 or 6 years. Add in the fact that the "power" the car uses comes from a power plant that burns coal or crude. All you have done is moved where the carbon footprint takes place at.

    I find it hard to get excited by something that seems to cost more, lowers my standard of living, is no better for the environment, and takes away freedoms that I currently enjoy. All in the name of trying to NOT change the temperature of the plant when there the one thing we know is the temperature is going to go up and down like a yo-yo over time no matter what.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Lithium cells are non-toxic and can be recycled. The batteries last a lot longer than you are talking about. Also coal plants are cleaner than the average ICE car and no one burns crude for electricity. Please educate yourself on this topic before shooting off at the mouth.

  • 50 years of political "investing" have left us with a record deficit added on, every year, to our already staggering debt.

    Isn't an "investment" supposed to, you know, pay off?

    More seriously, this is the problem with government "investing," as economists have understood for centuries. Politicians are "investing" *other people's money.* They don't have the same incentive to pick and choose their investments as you do. And the government lacks the price-signaling information that the free market does. This is

  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:28PM (#35035376) Homepage

    And I want a Pony

    Difference is I cant take your money to pay for my pony.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just pass a law for every family to buy an electric car. Like was done with health insurance in the Affordable Care Act. And think of the green jobs that will be created installing charging stations in every home. And all the replaced, polluting gasoline cars that will be off the road. Win-win!

  • by eepok (545733) on Friday January 28, 2011 @02:45PM (#35035628) Homepage

    I understand why Obama wants this:

    1) Bolster national production, create jobs, increase personal spending, more taxes coming in -- all good things.

    2) Decrease the amount of pollution being polluted by drivers. -- Also, good.

    I don't understand what we're doing with all these cars that people stop using. I know my GF gave up her Ford Explorer to get a Mazda in the Cash for Clunkers deal... but where did it go? Are the metals being recycled so that we can produce this new generation of eco-friendly vehicles in the most green way possible? Or maybe to cut costs?

    Or is it crushed somewhere... rusting? Maybe it was shipped over-seas to be scrapped and its parts to be melted down and recycled under horrible working conditions.

    I think that part... the origins of the resources for building these newer electric cars and the after-story of our throw-away cars is more important than getting more than getting X miles per Y tons of carbon per year.

  • You might as well cut out the middle man:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/panasonic-kei/5036172390/ [flickr.com]

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      A coal powerplant is cleaner and more efficient than your average ICE car. They spend millions on large nonportable scrubbers, your car does not.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday January 28, 2011 @03:33PM (#35036444) Journal

    ...by converting government fleets to electric, which would be far more effective for driving the industry, show that the government is taking a leadership role, and be more intellectually honest besides. I suspect, though, that they meant for you and me to drive little 50 mile range electric things while the ruling class continues to drive gas-guzzlers.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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