Just days after Chevrolet temporarily suspended production of its Volt due to lack of consumer demand for the $40,000 plug-in, mostly-electric car, President Obama announced his EV-Everywhere Challenge intended to result in the use of advanced electric vehicles "all over America."
At an estimated cost of $1 billion, the Obama Administration's EV-Challenge will create a collaboration of the nation's "best and brightest" scientists, engineers, and businesses to address the two main problems that have so far prevented electric vehicles from appealing to consumers - high price and low range.
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Ideally, says Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the EV-Challenge will result in electric vehicles that are more affordable and convenient to own and drive than today's gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years.
In other words, if the EV-Challenge succeeds, U.S. automakers will be producing easily-affordable electric vehicles capable of carrying 5 passengers far enough without recharging to meet the average transportation needs of Americans everywhere by 2022.
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"The Challenge," states the Energy Department, "will involve working with industry, universities, our national laboratories and government partners to set technical goals for cutting costs for the batteries and electric drivetrain systems, including motors and power electronics, reducing the vehicle weights while maintaining safety, and increasing fast-charge rates."
According to Department of Energy (DOE) estimates, electric vehicles can be operated at far lower costs than those powered by gasoline -- generally equivalent to less than $1 per gallon. In addition, says the DOE, electric vehicles can be "more reliable, require less maintenance, and offer the same or better driving performance compared to today's gasoline-powered vehicles."
Helping With the Affordability Thing: As part of his administration's All-of-the-Above Approach to American Energy, President Obama has stated that he will try to help make electric vehicles more affordable by proposing an increase to the current $7,500 tax credit to consumers and businesses for the purchase of alternate-fueled vehicles to a maximum of $10,000.
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Photo: Charging Station: "Gas Pump" of the Future? -- Bill Pugliano/Getty Images