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US Budget Falls Short on PHEVs: Small Research Increase, Zero for Demo Fleets
Feb 5, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Despite the President and Department of Energy's strong verbal support for PHEVs, the numbers don't tell the same story. The 2008 Energy Fact Sheet is at­omb/­pdf/­energy-2008.pdf describes small additional allocations for accelerated battery research. The Detroit News story positions this against other budget categories where expenditures will have less effect and involve much longer-term projects.

The issue of funding for research should not overshadow the larger point: that no resources are devoted to incentivizing or facilitating the production of PHEV demonstration fleets using today's "good enough" batteries (see our Response to the State of the Union­calcars-news/­666.html and comments on the President's Executive Order­calcars-news/­667.html.

Budget offers automakers less than they hoped for on alternative fuels David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20070205/­UPDATE/­702050428/­1020/­NATION You can reach David Shepardson at (202) 662 - 8735 or dshepardson@....

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's $2.9 trillion federal budget proposal, released today, fully funds the final year of a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel cell research program.

But as expected, the plan offers automakers less than they hoped on plug-in hybrid battery research.

Bush proposed spending $309 million on hydrogen fuel cells, up from $289 million in fiscal 2007, which ends Sept. 30. Automakers already have begun lobbying for the Bush Administration and Congress to support further research funding after the $1.2 billion program expires next year.

But the automakers were less successful on battery money; they had requested $500 million over five years following Bush's meeting in November with the CEOs of the Big Three. Bush's proposal raises battery funding to $81 million -- up from $31 million last year. Last month, the Energy Department said it is issuing $17 million in plug-in hybrid battery grants, part of that pool of money.

Automakers and experts are worried that Japanese automakers and battery firms are outpacing domestic manufacturers and will get plug-in hybrids to the market first. Both General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have shown off plug-in hybrid concept cars: the Chevy Volt and the Hy-Series Hybrid Ford Edge.

"Major producers in Japan, and more recently Korea, have opened a significant gap between them and other parts of the world in advanced-battery manufacturing expertise," said Menahem Anderman, president of California-based Advanced Automotive Batteries. The U.S. government should consider "addressing this significant gap in high-volume lithium-ion manufacturing expertise between U.S. developers and their Japanese and Korean counterparts."

For a year, DaimlerChrysler has had a test fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the roads. Between now and the first quarter of 2008 more than 20 Dodge Sprinter PHEVs will be placed into service as part of the program.

More money for ethanol research

Bush also wants to dramatically increase the use of alternative fuels, especially ethanol, and increase the required fuel efficiency of automobiles by an average of four percent annually beginning in 2009 for passenger cars -- a move that would cost the Big Three automakers billions.

The proposal boosts funding for ethanol research to $179 million, a smaller raise than the $59 million increase last year to $150 million.

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