Fast charging with ECOtality/eTec. (ECOtality graphic)
If it plugged in, it could get funded by an Obama Administration dead set on electrifying America. Administration officials were all over the country yesterday awarding $2.4 billion in federal Department of Energy stimulus funding to 40 battery and EV companies. It could be argued that some very worthy companies (especially California-based ones) got left out in the cold, but the funding as announced will without a doubt give a big boost to the ongoing EV revolution.
The money was to award companies that want to build batteries and EVs right here in the U.S. Without such funding, the lead will unquestionably go to Asia (where government subsidies for plug-in companies is routine). The Europeans have funded EVs far more than the U.S. also. Click here to see which lucky companies got the millions. Barack Obama is definitely a good salesman for programs like this. Notice how he emphasizes in this video where the batteries he's funding will be made:
The funding was awarded in three categories, with $1.5 billion for U.S. manufacturers to produce batteries and expand recycling capacity. Some $500 million went to American companies producing parts for EVs, such as electric motors and power electronics. And $400 million was for grants to buy thousands of plug-in hybrid and battery cars for test programs-and accumulate test data to benefit future EV charging programs.
One of the most dramatic programs, from ECOtality/eTec with Nissan as a partner, will put 12,500 charging stations in each of five U.S. regions, as well as 5,000 Nissan Leaf EVs on the road. It's literally the biggest EV deployment in history.
Programs like these are, inevitably, political -- and geographical, too. Michigan's congressional delegation needed to be appeased (their state was the big winner here) and the Big Three propped up so they can remain competitive. But, on the whole, the money will be well spent. Even some of the DOE sweepstakes losers said so.
"The good thing was that they focused on getting something done to compete with the Asian money," said Jeff Depew, CEO of Menlo Park, California-based Imara Corp., which had wanted to scale up production to produce cells for 65,000 plug-in hybrid cars annually, with 370 megawatt hours of yearly capacity. But the DOE's choices definitely rankled him. Asked where his plant would have been located, he said, "It's immaterial at this point." Asked how much he'd asked for, he said, "It doesn't matter now."
This kind of technology jump-start is the best part of green stimulus funding, and it will definitely create green jobs. ETec/ECOtality said that its new funding will create 750 new positions by 2012. As it supports the launch of the Nissan Leaf EV, the company said 5,500 jobs will be created "as a direct result of the proposed project."
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