The Washington Auto Show started today with an announcement by US Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz about a new, $50-million boost for the DOE's work on supporting more fuel-efficient vehicles. The $50 million, Moniz said, will support advanced vehicle technologies. $30 million will go towards making plug-in vehicles better and charging more convenient, including extra support for the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The DOE said years ago that it would focus on supporting electric vehicles, but Moniz said that he expects the money announced today to support a wide variety of things. This includes advanced batteries, lightweight materials, advanced combustion and better tires, all in an effort to help the auto industry meet the higher fuel economy ratings of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The DOE is "very bullish" on EV sales as costs continue to drop - Secretary Moniz

Moniz said that the DOE has played a huge role in getting the national average MPG up to the level it is as today, citing the example that nearly every hybrid on the road has some DOE-supported technology in it with better nickel-metal hydride batteries. Also, since Americans bought nearly 100,000 plug-in vehicles last year, about twice as much as in 2012, Moniz said the DOE feels "very bullish seeing this [EV progress] continue in the years ahead" as costs continue to drop.

Not every DOE investment has been a hit, of course, but Moniz is Okay with that. The DOE's broader loan program has worked, he said, adding that a portfolio "probably shouldn't be 100 percent successful." The biggest green-car-related DOE loan failure to date has been Fisker Automotive, which will be sold at auction February 12. Moniz said he didn't want to voice support for one side or the other (Wanxiang Group from China and Hybrid Tech Holdings from Hong Kong), but said that no matter who drives away the winner will not be able to just take the technology to Asia. "What's key for us is that the terms of our loan are respected," he said. "We have technology transfer limitations, so no matter who the winner is, we will be looking at both engineering and manufacturing in the United States. ... Even though our note was sold at a discount, we still may achieve our fundamental goals of seeing engineering and manufacturing continuing in our country."
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Secretary Moniz Announces Nearly $50 Million to Advance High-Tech, Fuel Efficient American Autos

WASHINGTON – At the Washington Auto Show today U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced nearly $50 million to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies that give drivers and businesses more transportation options and protect the environment in communities nationwide. This new funding includes support for the Energy Department's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a broader initiative launched in March 2012 to make plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) more affordable and convenient to own and drive than today's gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years.

"Today, the American auto industry is on the rise, experiencing the best period of growth in more than a decade. The new research and development funding announced today will help support our domestic automakers' continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America," said Secretary Moniz.

With support from the Energy Department, U.S. automakers, universities and national laboratories have achieved significant advances in vehicle efficiency and electrification, including cutting the cost to manufacture advanced electric vehicle batteries by 50 percent over the last four years.

Building on these advancements, the funding opportunity announced today will support a wide range of technologies that further cut fuel costs for drivers and help make vehicles more efficient and durable, including lightweighting materials; cost-effective batteries and power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and improved fuels and lubricants.

By bringing together America's best engineers, scientists and businesses, the Energy Department's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is focused on making electric vehicles more affordable and convenient to own than today's gasoline-powered vehicles within a decade. A new progress report released today highlights continued growth across the U.S. plug-in electric vehicle industry:

Last year, Americans bought nearly 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles, nearly twice as many as sold during 2012. According to industry estimates, the U.S. PEV market is on track to pass the 200,000 sales milestone by spring 2014 – nearly two years before hybrid electric vehicles reached this milestone since their introduction 10 years ago.

The Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own Awards ranked the 2013 Chevrolet Volt as #6 on its list of vehicles that have the lowest total cost of ownership for five years after the purchase of a new car. Only compact and subcompact cars cost less over this same period.

Through the Workplace Charging Challenge, the Energy Department is working to expand access to workplace charging stations for Americans workers across the country. In the first year of the challenge, more than 50 employers – including Facebook, Coca-Cola and Dell – have pledged to provide PEV charging access to their workforce at more than 150 worksites.

Over the last four years, the cost to manufacture advanced electric vehicle batteries has fallen by 50 percent. At the same time, the size and weight of PEV batteries has also been reduced by over 60 percent, while improving overall vehicle performance and durability.

Find more information on the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge and the Energy Department's broader efforts to help advance fuel efficient and electric vehicles.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Months Ago
      "Americans bought nearly 100,000 plug-in vehicles last year" ??? http://green.autoblog.com/2014/01/09/2013-green-car-sales-signs-of-a-maturing-market/ My abacus shows closer to 65,000 - that's almost a 55% exaggeration. (butt it did forget to include FixItAgainTony) I wonder how many PHEVs went to government fleets ?
        Nick Kordich
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        @EVnerdGene - from the link you reference: "Looking at plug-in vehicles only, the numbers are even more impressive, as sales jumped 87 percent from 2012 to 98,426 units." Where did you get 65,000?
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          http://green.autoblog.com/2014/01/09/2013-green-car-sales-signs-of-a-maturing-market/ as referenced the first time
        Grendal
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        I just looked up the green numbers page for December and it listed 100K plug-ins including Tesla.
        Dave
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        65,000 cars X $7,500 tax credit = $48,750,000 in tax credits.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Months Ago
      A tax "credit" is where tax"payer" SAVE money by getting those taxes back.
      danfred311
      • 2 Months Ago
      Don't they still have many billions left in the loan program? Not that a loan is the way to go.
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Months Ago
      If my recollection is correct, all Fisker Karma were made in Finland or somewhere in Europe, not in USA. Can Moniz really say the winning bidder will continue to manufacture Fisker cars in USA?
        raktmn
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Moniz is referring to Wanxiang America's court filings where they have sworn to their plans to build Karma gliders in Michigan in partnership with Bob Lutz, and build the batteries in Wanxiang's A123 Systems factory near Chicago, and to build the Atlantic starting in small numbers in Detroit, with plans to use the Delaware Boxwood Road plant for mass production. What he actually said was: "we still may achieve our fundamental goals of seeing engineering and manufacturing continuing in our country." You are narrowly reading this in the most inflammatory way you can. But the clear intent of his statement is that the goal of the program to build green vehicles here in the US, is indeed still achievable.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        The Atlantic was stipulated to be made in the U.S. And the R&D money is allocated for that program. So it could be legally prosecuted if the new owners were to take any capital away and try and increase production of the Karma.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Months Ago
      so American Taxpayers saved 50 million dollars of their tax money, by choosing to help break our dependence on foreign oil.
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Months Ago
      @Grendal This "new technology" will come whether the gov throws $50M at it or $50B. Capitalism - it works. "ambition will cure cancer before compassion" Yes, the wars were stupid, stupid, stupid. And now Iraq is worse off (premature withdrawal)? We could have "taken-out" Osama bin Laden three times in the 1990's for millions, not trillions. Recently gave billions in $ and military goods to Egypt - and ? Bengazi - will it happen again? - yes. Strong leader (me), I'd throw a coupla million at the problem - make a big crater there and call it WasBengazi - don't f with our diplomatic corps. back to cars - spend billions telling people they should drive SUVs for safety, and then spend billions telling people to drive more fuel efficient cars. Face it; clueless, warped agenda-driven, over-spending, over-bloated, wasteful, corrupted government is our biggest problem.
      Grendal
      • 2 Months Ago
      @EVnerd The war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan. The military budget since 9-11. All of that pales in comparison to anything spent on supporting new technology. This new technology has the ability to prevent such wars by making the US less reliant on Middle Eastern nations. That is very simplified viewpoint and I will admit that up front. Just generally all that was very very costly.
      Spec
      • 2 Months Ago
      So $50 Million to help jumpstart the EV biz? That is nothing. A great investment, IMHO.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Months Ago
      Keep on believin', man! you've got an infinite stream of money from us and it doesn't matter if you do a good job or investing it or not!
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        "The DOE's broader loan program has worked, he said, adding that a portfolio "probably shouldn't be 100 percent successful."" I suppose a
        Spec
        • 2 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Actually, they don't have much money. They had lots of money from the stimulus bill but that was several years ago and is largely gone. $50 Million is not much.
      danfred311
      • 2 Months Ago
      Nothing signals innovator like being 69 years old. His middle name is rock the boat. This guy...
      Kevin Gregerson
      • 2 Months Ago
      Fundamentally, he's correct. Even if Fisker ends up getting sold for 25 cents on the dollar so long as we build the Karma here and start selling them again we the taxpayer still get our money back via taxes, jobs, etc. Though, I'm thinking the Karma needs some design updates to make it a bit cheaper. It should be priced in the Tesla territory not in the High end Mercedes territory.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Kevin Gregerson
        ~95% of DOE projects have not resulted in any positive cash flow that meets or exceeds that of the taxpayer money invested, thus have been a net loss. I believe that the Fisker operation will be yet another loser. The only DOE funded company that has been a net benefit to the economy has been Tesla Motors Co. They actually paid off their loan. Every other DOE project from the last decade has been sold off, went bankrupt, or is still yet to generate a profit at this time. A123 looked like they had a chance, but the company was massively mismanaged and got sold off to the Chinese for pennies on the dollar. The net result of that is that we sold a ton of R&D very cheaply to the chinese and the taxpayer not only lost on the deal, but gave the country we are competing with an advantage.
          raktmn
          • 2 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Kevin, A123 Systems LLC stayed right here in the United States. They still build all of their automotive batteries right here in the US. Yes, they are owned by Wanxiang America, which is a subsidiary of the Asian Wanxiang Group. But A123 itself hasn't been shuffled off overseas. They continue to operate right here in the US, and Wanxiang America has filed sworn papers saying they will continue to build their automotive batteries for Fisker right here in the US if they win the bid.
          Kevin Gregerson
          • 2 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          A123 technically brought about something to the market that didn't exist. Yea, it went overseas, but it's much like digital camera tech. It was originally funded by NASA then spy companies then it went to market by mostly foreign camera companies. But, the actual technology paid off.
          m_2012
          • 2 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Gene, you nailed it.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          the lion's share of the ATVM billions dispersed went to Ford and Nissan Although I've always wondered WTF the government needs to loan money to Ford and Nissan when they could raise all the money they need in private markets. Long-term, low-interest loans? Factor in inflation, and it's like giving them money. The best government campaign contributions can buy?
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Kevin Gregerson
        That's a zero sum game though. Potential Fisker buyers will still spend that money and still pay sales tax anyway. Perhaps they will buy a Tesla, go to the Super Bowl, get a Ford F-150, a Mac Pro, remodel their house...
        m_2012
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Kevin Gregerson
        No amount of engineering and money will improve that flaming, overweight turd. None of these "investors" has intentions of building anything in the US.
          raktmn
          • 2 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          You mean like how Wanxiang hasn't built any A123 batteries since they bought them out of bankruptcy? Oh wait, Wanxiang successfully restarted battery production just months after buying A123, and their batteries are being driven around today in Spark EV's and BMW hybrids. If you think Wanxiang is buying Fisker just to never build any cars, you are badly underestimating them, and clearly have no business sense.
          m_2012
          • 2 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          Has anyone announced plans to build in the US? No. The logical conclusion is the Asian company is going to strip what tech they can out of it and install in local market stuff. They are in for a surprise as to what they are getting though. Fisker lied to get the loan, but luckily DOE wised up on that quick. Otherwise, they might have got the whole $500M. They burned through hundreds of millions of dollars, cashed in hundreds of millions more in insurance, and what did we get? A 20MPG, slow Biebermobile. They need to just write the loan off and move on so Fisker (the company) can just go away. I'm sure most if the cars are either unserviceable or burned up by now anyways, no big loss.
          RoyEMunson
          • 2 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          Wow, what a constructive comment! Congratulations on that! Regarding your second comment, what information do you have that nobody else does? You seem quite sure that this is the case, so im just curious of your sources. Thanks!
          m_2012
          • 2 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          Someone fell for it. Mark my words, there will NEVER be a single Fisker produced in America - be it North, Central, or South America. Odds are there will never be another Fisker, period. Just lots of US tax dollars thrown at this DOA Biebermobile.
          raktmn
          • 2 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          In the sworn court filings with the bankruptcy court, Wanxiang America swore to their plan to transition the production of the Fisker Karma to Michigan. Wanxiang America detailed their plan to partner with former GM Executive Bob Lutz, to build the Karma in a factory they have that is located near Detroit, with some gliders going for Lutz's gas cars, and others for Karma's. Wanxiang America swore to their plans to use their Elgin factory (near Chicago) to build the batteries, which will be shipped to the relatively nearby Detroit plant for final assembly in the gliders. They also detailed in their sworn submission, that they planned to bring the Fisker Atlantic into production at the Delaware Boxwood Road plant when demand reaches "in volumes that necessitate a separate manufacturing facility", with initial low volume production to begin in the same Detroit factory that the Karma will be built. Those are detailed, sworn plans to employ people in 3 different factories in 3 states in the US. So when you say "Has anyone announced plans to build in the US?", the answer is actually a resounding YES. In fact, their plans have been sworn to in lawful bids placed in US courts. If they were lying about their intentions, they could be found criminally liable in court. You have failed to educate yourself about the Wanxiang America bid. As for your cheap shot about Asian companies stripping tech and running, the actual reality is that Asian car companies just keep INCREASING their manufacturing in the US. From Nissan, to Honda, to Hyundai, to Toyota, they are all building more and more production capacity in the US. Wrong again. You anti-Asian bias simply is not held up by the facts, and you have nothing to indicate it would happen in this specific case. Finally, the DoE has ALREADY written off their $139 million dollar loss on the soon to be former Fisker. They did that last year when Hybrid/Li bought the loan at auction. The DoE is no longer involved fiscally. But Fisker is still bound by the terms of the loan (even after Hybrid/Li bought the loan) and the judge could require the New Fisker to continue to abide by those terms after coming out of bankruptcy. But the money itself has already been settled and is done. Wake up. 2012 is ancient history. Time to catch up with reality.
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Months Ago
      well some people would say; '$50M is a drop in the bucket from their $30.6 BILLION (2012 budget)' * I'd say thinking like that is what's gotten us $17 TRILLION in debt, and accelerating to armageddon DOE - since 1977 - 'tasked with reducing our dependence on foreign oil' 16,000 employees 94,000 civilian contractors best government that money can buy best money that government can blow best government that money can blow
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