Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Coming of the Electric Car

                      The Coming of the Electric Car            

In his latest State of the Union address, President Barack Obama has set forth a policy direction that would require an increase of the number of electric cars on American roads by 2012. While this is not a surprise for many, as this was one of the platform points for his then candidacy, the formal pronouncement has sent ripples across the face of energy policy in the country.

Politicians on both sides of the political aisle both have versions of how to change energy policy in the United States. While the current stale plan is to change fuel economy standards and other cosmetic changes, this pronouncement drastically changed this concept. The goal is to wean the American economy from foreign oil aside from lowering the greenhouse gas emission and thus lower the overall pollution in the environment.

The pronouncement has thus forced the hand of one of major contributors to pollution in the environment. The automobile industry is now challenged to create fuel-efficient electric cars or hybrid vehicles to supply the now environmentally conscious public. The challenge is also very timely, with the current state of politics in the Middle East that has led to the skyrocketing of fuel prices worldwide.

Aside from this challenge, state governments are now creating subsidies for individuals purchasing electric vehicles. Many states such as California are providing tax cuts for both the manufacturer and the purchaser, together with subsidies when the purchases are done. Also infrastructure is being created for the electric car, with many local governments putting up public recharging stations and private companies entering into partnerships to create portable or home charging units for electric vehicles.

Overseas, the electric car is also coming down many nations’ roads. Many European Union countries have already provided the subsidies and infrastructure system now being implemented in the United States. Also, multi-national corporations from Asia, Europe and North America are forging partnerships for all the aspects of the electric car, from battery parts to design and even technological innovations to assist in capturing the largest share in this projected world market for the electric car.

Before Obama’s statement, the energy policy was clearly floundering. Now, with this new edict, many of the unclear instructions have become crystal clear. There are many pundits though to the electric car dream, saying that it was unattainable given the state of technology, the prohibitive cost of the vehicle and the passing of pollutants to power plants because of the increased demand. Also, the problem of the materials for the electric car parts and the limited range of the vehicle can pose serious concerns to the long-range plans for the electric car. This together with the large lobby funding for oil interests makes the electric car edict on an uphill climb.

The pronouncement still has many more discussions as well as planning to reach fruition. What is important is to have the political will to keep and support the electric car dream. For now, while internal combustion engines outnumber electric cars on American roads, the distance between them would be cut down as the electric car starts zooming out the car plants.

For a more comprehensive discussion on electric vehicles, do visit us at Is the Electric Car Market Becoming Nothing More than a Political Football?” Please visit the author’s site The Electric Forum 
Guest post by: Marc Castro


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