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Feds Scrape Together $30M for Plug-In Hybrids. That’s All?

Posted by ecoshift on June 13, 2008

Feds Scrape Together $30M for Plug-In Hybrids… That’s All? | Autopia from Wired.com
By Chuck Squatriglia
June 13, 2008 | 6:52:31 PM

The Bush Administration has shown its support for plug-in hybrids by promising a measly $30 million to get them on the road within eight years, a figure and a timeline some automakers and plug-in advocates say is too little and too long. Getting these cars on the road quickly, they say, should be a national priority with the funding to match.

The Department of Energy made a big deal of the hand-out, announcing it at a plug-in hybrid conference in Washington D.C., but c’mon — $30 million? To be spread out among three companies over three years? What’d it do — scrounge change from couch cushions in the Pentagon? EV advocates were quick to thank Uncle Sam for the money but said it’s going to take a whole lot more than that to wean us from oil — which, by the way, will collect $17 billion in tax breaks during the next decade.

“It’s great to see the DOE upping its support of plug-in vehicles and getting the major car companies involved,” Sherry Boschert, vice-president of Plug In America, told Wired.com. “Unfortunately, the $30 is a drop in the bucket compared with funding that DOE blows on less viable and potentially harmful options like hydrogen fuel cell cars and corn-based biofuels.”

General Motors, Ford and General Electric will share the money, which Assistant Energy Secretary Andy Karsner said would accelerate development of the cars to make them cost-competitive by 2014 and commercially viable by 2016.

2016? When the Chevrolet Volt and a plug-in Prius could be in showrooms by 2010 and Nissan says it’ll skip plugs entirely and give us an EV at about the same time?

Plug-in advocates weren’t alone in expressing dismay at the DOE timeline. Sen. Robert Mendez, D-N.J., chastised the agency for not thinking bigger and pushing harder, saying, “The administration lacks a sense of urgency on this issue.”

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