For Obama’s Green-Car Revolution, Fits and Starts
by Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens (The WashingtonPost) The Obama administration has poured roughly $5 billion in taxpayer funds into the electric-car industry, offering incentives to manufacturers, their suppliers and even car buyers who might want to go green.
But analysts say the risk is rising that taxpayers in many cases will not see a return on their money soon, if ever. Instead, they warn that some federally subsidized companies could be forced to shut down in coming months.
…The administration has channeled an estimated $80 billion of the stimulus recovery effort into grants and loans to clean energy and energy efficiency programs, companies and research.
Obama predicted in 2008 that green cars would create thousands of new U.S. jobs as demand soared. But in recent months, production lines and sales expectations have been dramatically scaled back.
“Certainly, with electric-vehicle sales, we’re not on track to meet the president’s goal,” said Brendan Bell, clean-vehicle expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But . . . these investments are good ones toward that goal.”
Alex Molinaroli, a Johnson Controls vice president, said the funds give U.S. factories the capacity to deliver when demand arrives and position them as industry players.
“Is it worth the premium?” Molinaroli said. “We’ll have to wait a long time to see if this was a good investment or not.”
…In February, an agency report said U.S. car production “should be sufficient to achieve the goal of one million EVs by 2015,” with enough capacity to produce 44,000 of the top seven electric vehicles in 2011.
Actual sales of those models this year stand at 16,800 — roughly two-tenths of 1 percent of 2011 domestic auto sales. The vast majority were Chevrolet Volts or Nissan Leafs, which were in development long before Obama took office. READ MORE and MORE (Washington Post Graphic: $36 billion in loans to renewable energy technologies) and MORE (Automotive News)
Excerpt from Automotive News: California’s air quality regulator on Wednesday proposed sweeping new rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, including putting 1.4 million electric, plug-in and hydrogen cars on the state’s roads by 2025.
…Still, the new rules include a provision to allow automakers that over comply with their fuel efficiency requirements across their fleet to offset their ZEV requirement, an apparent acknowledgment of the slow pace of getting such vehicles into the mass market. READ MORE