One of the differences between the Washington Auto Show and car shows in other cities is the almost overwhelming appearance of politicians and government officials. Whether they come to learn or to lecture (or both), these folks create a well-worn trail from the Hill to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center every January.
One such official who spoke at the show last week was David Sandalow, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the Department Of Energy. His main point? That "this [auto industry] revival wasn't destined to happen," and only happened because of the "difficult" and vital choices that the Obama Administration made to save the auto industry, choices that are now paying off with jobs and an improving economy. From here on out, he said, we have to keep things humming by supporting innovative technology that makes our cars cleaner and better.

Sandalow, who also wrote "Freedom From Oil," said he was amazed at how fast technology has evolved in the last 15 years, the lifetime of his teenage daughter. "It's an incredibly exciting time," he said. "Technological innovation is sweeping the globe."

To that end, the DOE is supporting a lot of different research avenues, including light weighting, fuel cells, plug-in cars and biofuels. "Advanced batteries is a particularly important area that we're investing in," he said, citing the Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies Program at Berkeley National Lab as one strong example.

As a plug-in car driver himself, Sandalow said that, "One of the advantages of electric vehicles is that we have a widespread electricity infrastructure." Of course, building out a Level 2 network will require "some investment," he said, adding that the research shows that most people will charge their vehicles where they currently they park their vehicles: at home at night.

On this point, he told a story about a panel discussion on clean car technology that he saw a few years ago. Two auto execs (he declined to name them) were discussing the potential of introducing plug-in vehicles to the U.S. market. One of the execs said that plug-in cars aren't worth it because only half of U.S. drivers park where they can plug in at night. The other one said his company was very excited to introduce plug-ins here because half the people can charge up at night. Apocryphal or not, that right there tells you all you need to know about people who lead and people who follow.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      brotherkenny4
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am actually amazed at how slow thing move.
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      So a part of the administration is defending the administration? What else is new? LOL.
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      So a part of the administration is defending the administration? What else is new? LOL.
      Roy_H
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hats off to David Sandalow, we need more public supporters like him. The conservative Romney, Cavuto, Limbaugh constant bashing of GM and the Volt have had far more success than I ever would have believed. They are succeeding in bringing down one of the greatest American icons in automotive history and destroying Volt sales. Since they have such enormous influence, it seems obvious that Romney will be the next president of the US. God help us all.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is no doubt that by expanding and developing the incentive programs for the Auto-industry started under the Bush administration, President Obama has done great service to the Auto-industry and the millions of livelihoods, both in the US and abroad that depend upon a prosperous and competitive Auto-industry. David Sandalow, is an active and sincere advocate for EV and alternate energy. Whether you agree with the DOE methods or not, the man personally drives a PIEV. Sadly, in the home of EV pioneering manufacture, Australia, no politician or government official of significance drives an EV (not even the 'Green Party') . The previous conservative (centre-right) government's 'Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF)' was abolished by the incoming Labour/Alliance (green/left, labour-centre left) government on the rationale, of Minister Kim Carr's famous remark, " there no future in these electric car 'thingy's'! " Thank goodness that the Obama administration was not so negative as to abandon good government policy, simply in partisan lines.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      level 2 is an extension cord. I hope he meant level 3 but given their track record of doing nothing and cluelessness he probably meant 2
        solas
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        actually, overall wattage capability is similar in most places in the world for those "extension cord" cases: the high "default" voltage in EU in many cases (not all) mandates lower amps from that socket. In any case, the high end of the Level 2 wattage spec is far more than these default outlets ... whether they be 110 or 240 or 220 volts.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Level 2 may be an extension cord in Europe but here in the USA where most outlets are 120V, level 2 generally requires the installation of a new 240 Volt circuit. So what were you saying about cluelessness?
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think the story is apocryphal. It is based on a story about a shoe company where they sent two researchers to Africa. One guy glumly reported that the market prospects were not good as only half the people there bothered to wear shoes. The other guy gleefully reported that it was a great prospect since half the people didn't have any shoes yet!
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