President Obama's Electric Ride

When I heard that President Obama was going to visit Southern California Edison's Electric Vehicle Test Center, I pictured him behind the wheel of a plug-in vehicle with a big smile on his face. He'd step on the accelerator, feel the instant power to the wheels inherent with electric motors and know that he was driving a clean, quiet, and oil-free machine. Plug-in vehicles are not just about fun, though; the President knows that they are an essential part of our clean energy future.

The President's energy agenda calls for putting a million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015 and he and Congress have put forth funding to reach this goal. He announced $2.4 billion to put Americans to work on building the batteries and plug-in vehicle components and purchasers of plug-in vehicles are eligible for tax credits of up to $7,500, applicable to the first 200,000 vehicles sold from a manufacturer.

Over the next two years, we can expect rollouts of plug-in offerings such as the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius plug-in, Mitsubishi iMiEV, and upstarts like the Tesla Roadster, which is already being sold. Following in 2012 is the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid, which is being tested at SCE's center.

Ramping up US production of plug-in vehicle components is critical for making the US a leader in clean vehicles production and strengthening jobs in the US auto industry. The President highlighted initial funding made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but future, on-going investment in advanced vehicles--as well as smart growth and clean, renewable fuels--can be provided through global warming legislation that caps emissions and auctions allowances. Get lots more detail here.

Apparently the President didn't test drive some of the cars of the near future during his recent trip as I had envisioned, but he did work to steer transportation in the right direction. Serious action to deal with climate change is an integral part of that new road to a new energy economy. And plug-in vehicles will allow us all to have good, clean fun along the way.