When president-elect Barack Obama nominated Dr. Steven Chu to be the next Secretary of Energy last week, he made his stance on energy and the environment abundantly clear. Chu has long been outspoken as a believer in human-caused global warming and the need to address the problem aggressively. Part of that process needs to include making the vehicle fleet more fuel efficient and transitioning it away from fossil fuels. However, there is a very real cost to doing that in terms of the technology requirements. That has been true for a long time.
As Obama approaches his inauguration, the problem has become significantly more serious. In just the last few months, vehicle sales in the United States have plummeted by as much as 40 percent. Until the economy starts to turn around, any significant change in the vehicle fleet is simply not going to happen. Obama will likely have to back off on some of his goals. With the distinct possibility that vehicle sales in the US may drop below 10 million units in 2009 (from a high of over 17 million just a few years ago), the new and more efficient vehicles that automakers are building will take a much longer time to replace existing vehicles. Micki Maynard takes a look at the problem in the New York Times today.

[Source: New York Times]

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