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During last night's State of the Union address, President Obama made strong arguments in favor of advanced technology vehicles. Reiterating his call for one million plug-in hybrids and electrics on the road by 2015 and increased use of biofuels, he proclaimed we could win the future through innovation.

To help meet those lofty goals he proposed investing $8 billion – that's $2 billion above today's funding levels if you're keeping score – in next-gen vehicles and batteries. He even had an interesting way of sourcing the desired funds without adding to the debt: from subsidies currently handed out to oil companies. In his own words, "Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's," Hear, hear.

He also said:

At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

The details of the administration's plan will become more clear in the next few weeks when the budget proposal is released. Besides investments in R&D, they'd like to change the $7,500 plug-in vehicle tax rebate into a point of purchase rebate, meaning everyone would be elegible for the full amount with no waiting. Charging infrastructure development is also high on the wish list. You can go to the White House's SOTU webpage to watch the speech for yourself.

If you want to come down off the high created by the thought of a million plug-in vehicles cruising America in a few short years, remember that we've heard all sorts of big dreams in SOTU addresses before.

[Source: White House / Detroit News | Image: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images]


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  • 67 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Would that rebate apply to people that have taken delivery of the Nissan LEAF?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I doubt it would be retroactive, but if you were eligible for the tax rebate and had applied, you'd still be eligible for the old tax rebate.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I should have added this to above post but If you have bought the EV would that change the rebate when you do your taxes to a full rebate like the point of sale would be.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think we should just take away all oil company subsidies. Aren't they still making record profits? And I'm pretty sure they pay basically no tax on those profits. Why are they getting money from one of the most in debt countries in the world? I realize the US works on 'trickle up' economics but that's a bit over the top.
        • 3 Months Ago
        So should we let everybody "keep the money they earned" and eliminate taxes? We can't run a functional Government without funds, so basically that would mean anarchy - which is very VERY bad for business.

        The Oil Companies receive lots of benefits from the Government, including military and police protection, roads, and even geological surveys from the USGS that help them find good drilling sites. To make those companies tax free is to supply those benefits without payment, technically not "giving them money" but it is giving them something of value for nothing. To pay for those services, either someone else will be taxed more, or it is added to the national debt to be paid later - with interest!

        So you see, there really are adverse consequences to excessive tax cuts, especially when it results in deficits.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Letting a company keep money that they earned - that, if it were any other US corporation, would be taxed - is not giving them money. That is letting them keep the money they earned...
        • 3 Months Ago
        Good question.
        The oil industry is making record profits, but the shareholders aren't seeing it. Where is the money going?

        Now that wind power is as cheap as natural gas, we should be seeing some clean investment. Instead they're fracking in PA and destroying our clean water supply.

      electronx16
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've got to hand it to Obama; his foreign policy may consist of terminating America's superpower status by empowering it's enemies and selling out every ally the US ever had in this world leaving (among other things)it's foreign oil supply increasingly vulnerable but he does seem to be willing to take the steps necessary to make sure that America doesn't need this oil so much anymore anyway. Splendid isolation?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        >> I've got to hand it to Obama; his foreign policy may consist of terminating America's superpower status by empowering it's enemies and selling out every ally the US ever had in this world leaving (among other things)it's foreign oil supply increasingly vulnerable.

        Where does this come from?
        Being anti-Democratic party is one thing. But do you need to just make stuff up? Obama has done more then the Bush administration in taking it to the enemy in Afganistan/Pakistan, with more money, troops and drone attacks.

        But to what point? Where is Osama? Are we there just to steal arab oil? Is that a foreign policy goal you want implemented?

        • 4 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        Is we were to stop buying the product (oil) by which they fund their extremism, I would call that exactly the opposite of empowering the enemy.
        electronx16
        • 4 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        Mike, this is a green car blog so I'm not going too deep into this (guess I shouldn't have brought it up in the first place but it's hard to separate energy and politics) but may be one thing to explain where I come from: it seems to me that if there are people out there with deep rooted convictions that you are evil -a big satan even- and you really need to be destroyed so that their believe system can dominate the world and they are even developing nuclear weapons to make good on their intentions, government officials should at least be allowed to name them since it's a bit hard to deal with a foe that can't even be named.

        The way I see it there is a lot going on in international politics that doesn't bode too well for the West and Obama's policies don't seem to be too helpful most of the time to counter the tide, but admittedly, neither were Bush's.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        electronx16, you've really got to stop listening to the professional prevaricators at Fox News, or at least learn to be a bit skeptical of their hyperbole.

        Our President has not been "empowering our enemies", quite the opposite, he's refocused our efforts on the Al Qaida and Taliban bases in Afghanistan, and strengthened our ties to allies around the world. He also has had no problem in naming our enemies - Al Qaida and its supporters. But no, he does not make the mistake of assuming that all of Islam is our enemy, the way some paranoid pundits do. Oh, BTW, George W. Bush didn't make that mistake, either.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Besides investments in R&D, they'd like to change the $7,500 plug-in vehicle tax rebate into a point of purchase rebate"

      This would be a big help. Unlike what some EV haters would like to claim - a lot of people buying the Leaf are middle class who wouldn't be able afford Leaf but for the tax credit. Many have problem getting the credit because they don't make enough to have that 7.5K tax liability - and are forced to lease.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The auto makers could raise prices by the amount of the rebate, but that would mean loosing sales to other auto makers that didn't raise prices, or raised price just a little. Even with rebate subsidies, supply and demand still applies.

        The best pricing approach is still: Cost plus reasonable profit margin.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Unfortunately automotive stealerships will benefit unfairly from this through increased demand for EVs. Not sure if anyone noticed but while hybrids had the 3500 tax credit, these cars where going for full sticker... only a fool pays full sticker. I know, i used to sell Toyotas... had to take cold showers every night. Anyway, just sayin, if you have the discount available at POS, dealerships will focus your attention to that fact, to distract you from the fact that you are buying the vehicle at full sticker or MORE.

        Car dealers love playing with numbers... "we will pay off your trade no matter what you owe!", or how about "7500 dollars off sticker!". One born every minute.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What I'm concerned about, is that the automakers just increase prices by $7500 since they know the govt will pay for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "The only people paying over MSRP on the LEAF are people who didn't do their homework" i.e. Fools. Thanks for reiterating my point.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Spiffster - The only people paying over MSRP on the LEAF are people who didn't do their homework. It's easy to get $500-1000+ off the MSRP on the LEAF with a bit of shopping.

        The Volt on the other hand is difficult to get lower than MSRP, but MSRP isn't tough to get if you shop around. But this is typical of new and popular GM vehicles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thats exactly my problem/ what I've been complaining about.
        • 4 Years Ago
        China is simply giving the credit to the manufacturers. Much less complex, more equitable and more efficient.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not at all an Obama fan but just for this issue, I would consider voting for him again.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't agree with everything the guy has done but I think he's absolutely on the right track here. Advances in more efficient transportation don't just help our nation, they help -every- nation. Let's hope he sees these particular things through.

      I would love to see the day when sourcing transportation fuel becomes more of a regional issue and less of a global one.
      • 4 Years Ago
      who cares if we can offer 1 million plug ins. There won't be a million buyers for them
        • 3 Months Ago
        Considering that plug-ins offer lower maintenance and operating costs as well as the convenience of at-home recharging, it should be an easy sell. The added benefits of quiet, clean and easy operation is a bonus, as is the reduction in oil usage.

        So what would inhibit sales? Higher cost? Maybe for some, though they are affordable for many buyers right now and prices are dropping - and there is the lower operating costs to consider. Range? Maybe in a few cases, but there will son be EVs with longer range, as well as Plug-in Hybrids with no real range issues. "Fear of the unknown"? The word is getting out and many more people are learning about the advantages of "plugging in". As people see more plug-ins on the road and talk to people that drive them, the fears will abate.

        So, really, I don't see any valid reason why we couldn't see a million plug-in Drivers within 5 years.
        • 3 Months Ago
        NettyBo, you seem to think that a million cars would be most of the vehicles on the road, in fact, it will be less than 1%. But there are a wide variety of vehicles for different markets, so even if there aren't any plug-in pickups or SUVs or large sedans (highly unlikely) and those drivers don't go electric, there could still be enough small EV and mid-sized PHEV drivers to reach that mark by 2015.

        But there will be large sedans and SUVs with a plug. Toyota will be re-introducing the RAV4-EV, Tesla will be producing the Model S sedan (room for 7), and Ford plans EV and PHEV versions of their C-MAX crossover SUV, and the Transit Connect EV van. Smith Electric and Modec are producing EV delivery trucks, and may start producing PHEV versions as well.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Very good post Chris, and good points I agree with. However you are forgetting the two big neon pink elephants in the room. First off, were the land of mid-size sedans and pickup trucks, like it or not. While the big three may offer a plug in option for pickups, its likely it wont happen till the next generation the three build, none of which will arrive before target date. Mid size? Have you seen the sales reports for the Camry hybrid? Not good. A large percentage of "family" sedans, are kept in the family for years, which brings the big question."Whats this thing gonna be worth when the warranty is done?" There aren't enough examples yet to truly answer the question. Which is another reason folks who do keep their cars a long time, won't consider a plug in....yet. The other VERY big thing that's missing is there are alot of people who don't have a place to plug a car in...city dwellers, apartment complexes, condos, dorms, etc. Until that changes, in SIGNIFICANT numbers (i.e. I can make a move to a different place/city without a worry), there will be resistance to a plug in as a vehicle choice. 500k by 1015, you bet, 750k, good chance..a million...nope.
      • 4 Years Ago
      he has had two years to do these things and so much more. yet did not. Chu too.
      they had the chance but did nothing.
      ford would make electric cars without the loan. tesla would make the model S.

      is there an electric car coming that they can claim credit for? no.
      pathetic
        • 3 Months Ago
        that's bs. first of all the wars should have ended on day one. then that would be done and a lot of money saved. and greentech is integral to USA recovering so no, that argument doesn't hold.
        • 3 Months Ago
        They may have had some other stuff to worry about, but I'm just guessing here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hopefully, Obama will stick with the plan... certainly, China and India are NOT waiting to invest in bullet trains and alternative energy!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nick, Obama and the Dems are in bed with oil companies as much (if not more) as the Reps:


        http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110126/ap_on_re_us/us_state_of_union_fact_check_5

        "But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

        For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress."



        Lets face it all politicians are crooks. But Democrats make Republican's look like saints.

        • 4 Years Ago
        China already has high-speed rail in place (Shanghai), and will be building a network, along with alt vehicles. They're serious about going green and efficiency, given the sheer volume of people they need to support. Major infrastructure investment here.

        India, I don't hear so much about.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Market & Church: Your point " (Just as our need to expand technologically and connect globally built up Asia). They got a free ride, and we foot the bill."

        They got a free ride, because OUR corporations gave the technologies away. Apple, Microsoft, HP, Dell IBM etc, etc.... all exported our technological advantage in return for CHEAP labor. In return they got dividends and fat bonus checks, America got massive unemployment. Remember the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone etc.

        I know Apple and Microsoft are regarded as great American companies, yet still not a single product from either of these American giants, is made in AMERICA. That my friend IS the real problem.

        American Industrialism was murdered by greed. All these companies were profitable when they made their products here. Its not as if their actions were driven by necessity, it was driven be GREED.
        • 4 Years Ago
        At homedepot, we are selling CFL bulbs at subsidized prices, so that we can use less power. Now we are bringing more electric cars ?

        The last thing India needs is a bullet train.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "from subsidies currently handed out to oil companies"

        Oh oh, you can be sure as hell that Exxon will spent a ton of $ to support Republicans, now that the Republican-dominated Supreme Court allowed unlimited contributions from corporations.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Now I don't know about but Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Eni, TOTAL, or BHP Billiton, but I do know that just as much as they spend on green tech, China is investing even more money in their own oil companies, 3 of which are on the top20 largest energy companies in the world... as does Russia with its Gazprom, Brazil's Petrobras, Saudi Aramco, Petronas, Venezuela's Petróleos de Venezuela, China National Petroleum Corporation and the National Iranian Oil Company. (There is a reason these companies are the largest energy companies in the world...)

        Exxon Mobile and the American oil companies used to produce half of the world's total oil output just 10 years ago. Now, none of our American-based "Big Oil" companies crack the top 10 energy companies list. Our Big Oil only own 3% of the worlds reserves...

        It should also be noted that we don't invest in our oil companies to the extant that many of these countries who follow the "State Capitalism" model. Heck... "Subsides" for oil companies is not taxing them as much? At least they are not nationalized with public dollars or a state takeover. I don't consider Tax-Breaks subsidizing... Subsidizing in my opinion is when you give them money to prop their business up (which... without it, would not exist). Giving any company taxbreaks is helping it to stay competitive.

        Remember that... our Trade Deficit and addiction to Oil BUILT those High-Speed trains (Just as our need to expand technologically and connect globally built up Asia). They got a free ride, and we foot the bill. At the same time, we are taking away all the competitive advantage that our oil companies have away from them, and throwing it into a sector(green manufacturing) whose output globally is still 3times that of the demand for it... this is a cause for concern.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Market and Church:


        How are tax breaks not subsidies? If thier tax burden is lighter, then the rest of the tax payers have to shoulder their responsibility. It's all money, and it's all the same.

      • 4 Years Ago
      "we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels,"

      No, not gonna happen. Don't over-sell the technology, it cannot do that. But moving to alt-energy is needed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Nixon
        That's how I feel it too. EVs can mostly fill the daily driver market (the majority market), while PHEVs/hybrids running on biofuels can fill the gaps. That seems to be doable without much changes to infrastructure.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ernie, I'm sorry to say you're only half right. There are many windmills using permanent magnets for their generators, but many large windmills use AC Induction generators as they are easier to synch with the power grid (but they do need to disconnect when the wind drops, otherwise they'd start drawing power from the grid and switch from windmill to giant fan mode).

        It is possible to use a DC motor for regenerative braking, but it isn't easy, so very few DC motor EVs have regen. Hybrids like the Prius use AC Synchronous motors with permanent magnets, their regenerative braking works very well. Of course there are lots of EVs using AC Induction motors that are excellent for regenerative braking and do not have permanent magnets. .
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ spec

        Biofuels probably can replace oil if the fleet is made more efficient. It is unlikely we will completely replace oil, but it is possible.

        @ mike

        Wind is cool, but it is still reliant upon rare earth metals from China.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are right, biofuels alone will not do the job. But biofuels plus EV's together can.


        • 4 Years Ago
        But a real breakthrough is that now Wind Power is as Cheap as Natural Gas, with non of the pollution.

        http://www.ecogeek.org/component/content/article/3422
        • 4 Years Ago
        why wouldn't industrial scale bio-fuels be possible? There is already progress on engineering bacteria to produce ethanol, why wouldn't industrial scale production be possible?
        • 4 Years Ago
        What biofuels can also do is lower my gas mileage by 20% while still charging me the same at the pump.

        What a great idea! Let's charge the same price for fuel that kills fuel economy! That'll make it worth people's time and money! ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        @mylexicon:

        "Wind is cool, but it is still reliant upon rare earth metals from China."

        Um... SURE! Because all electric motors require the only very best magnets found only in one mountain range in Timbuktu!

        Sorry, but there isn't a generator out there - *especially* AC generators - that use magnets.

        Also, you can't build a DC motor that provides regenerative braking with magnets. Those are AC motors. Which do not use magnets at all.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope cars get more complex so that the fear of recalls will push carmakers into making easy to fix electric cars.
      I believe China already has 15 million electric vehicles but who knows -they didn't hire thousands of counters.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Rebates for cars bought from American companies, yes, from foreign companies hell no. Why is our tax. Money going to further forigen technology and hurting ourse? Will we protect our industry before it's too late?
        • 3 Months Ago
        The rebate is for the benefit of buyers, not the sellers. Also, the buyers will be US citizens, and presumably be using said vehicles in the US.

        Besides, most of those "foreign companies" will be building the cars in the US and hiring US workers, as it cuts down shipping costs.
        • 3 Months Ago
        C'mon. You can't be that much in the dark, can you? What is an American car company? A Ford Fiesta assembled in Mexico. A Honda Accord built in Marysville, Ohio? A Lincoln built with more Canadian content so that it does not get counted against domestic Ford's CAFE standard? And on and on.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Reguardless of where it's made more money from a car bought from Ford or GM stays in the us. Should we stand by and let Ford and GM sell cars made else where here no, but that's a seperate issue from outright lining of foreign car companies pockets.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Nissan does enough business and hires enough employees in the US to be considered an American company, and as Chris said, buyers will be using these vehicles here, so there is still many transactions to be had past the initial purchase, most involving American mechanics and tire/oil serviceman/woman, gas station attendants, insurance reps, etc.
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