WASHINGTON (Feb. 15, 2011) — President Barack Obama's fiscal 2012 budget proposal would give $200 million in federal grants to as many as 30 communities that advance electric vehicle (EV) use through fleet purchases, infrastructure investment and streamlined regulations.
The new grants, which would be provided to communities that make competitive bids, seek to help the administration reach its goal of putting 1 million advanced-technology vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015.
The budget proposal released Feb. 14, which requires congressional approval, also would significantly increase R&D in batteries and energy storage.
“This would decrease our dependence on imported oil,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said yesterday at a news conference.
The budget would increase spending for vehicle technologies by 88 percent to $588 million beginning Oct. 1. The $267 million increase includes the $200 million for grants “to help communities across the country become early adopters of electric vehicles,” the budget proposal says.
The administration has sought to promote wider use of EVs. But any new budget increase will have to overcome skepticism by House Republicans.
“I am particularly disappointed to see the White House continuing its efforts to manipulate free enterprise—whether on energy or health care or technology,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said Feb. 14. “This budget continues to advance policies in which the federal government picks winners and losers, rather than letting the American people and the power of competition identify the most efficient, effective investment of resources.”
The administration said possible uses for the community EV grants include local parking and high-occupancy vehicle access incentives, partnerships with large employers and work force training.
Skeptics have questioned whether the government and automakers can overcome consumer concerns about EV prices, lack of charging stations and high battery costs.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.