With the U.S. mid-term elections over and control of the House of Representatives shifting over to Republican control, it's worth trying to figure out what the legislative future holds for plug-in vehicle support. The short answer, as best we can tell: it's complicated, but there are still a lot of people who want to see plug-ins on the road. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Republicans will probably slow down the overall federal push for greener cars
Dave McCurdy, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and a former Oklahoma Democratic Congressman, was quoted in an article for Automotive News (sub. req.) titled, "Lobbyists see start of auto-friendly GOP era" that basically framed the post-election political landscape as one where Republicans, "will be able to launch hearings and investigations that impede federal regulations." McCurdy said that lobbyists will now get listened to more with Republicans in charge. McCurdy also told AN that, ""It's going to be up to the president to rein in some of the more exuberant tendencies in California" (he means the state's green car efforts).
  • But electric vehicles are also a bipartisan issue
People who followed to elections know that the radical Tea Party made big gains. One of the party's big concerns, alongside questioning President Obama's place of birth and fighting for companies' freedom to pollute, is federal spending, so it's fair to ask if any electric car incentives might hit the chopping block. Jim Motavalli, writing over at Yahoo, doesn't think so:
Republicans control the House, but it would be a mistake to assume they'll lump electric cars in with cap-and-trade as public enemy number one. EVs are a bipartisan issue, and that's more than a feel-good line.
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  • Still, Democrats lead when it comes to plug-ins
Lastly, the party in power of the White House and the Senate, the Democrats, is, for the most part, full of big supporters of plug-in vehicles. Candidate Obama famously called for a million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015, has set up an electric vehicle task force and he has an electric vehicle "point man" who gets the benefits of having alternatives to oil in the mix. Democratic leader Terry McAuliffe recently said he would "invest $1 billion to build electric vehicles in economically depressed areas of the United States," according to the Washington Post. This doesn't mean that everyone in the party is blindly in favor of a car with a big battery pack. Steve Rattner, Obama's former car czar, for example, was pessimistic earlier this fall when he told Talking Points Memo:
Electric cars are going to be a very, very important part of our future but we should not assume they will be an important part of the car companies' profits. ... I think using tax credits for buyers is a good way to encourage car companies. These are helpful things to do ... but they are not game changers for the companies, financially.
  • California still holds a lot of power
Even with the Republicans in charge in the House, the Detroit News notes that, with the election of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and the defeat of ballot Proposition 23, California continues to hold a lot of clout when it comes to pushing the federal government to go greener. It's been doing so for decades, no matter who is in charge in D.C., and it's unlikely that the next two years will be any different.

[Sources: Detroit News, MSNBC, Yahoo, Automotive News (sub. req.), Washington Post, Talking Points Memo | Image: K3nna - C.C. License 2.0

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