The Global View

US banks billions on an electric-car future

While the world’s oil companies insist they’ll dominate the energy picture for the foreseeable future, the US is placing a substantial bet elsewhere … on a coming age of advanced batteries and electric cars.

Since last September, the US Department of Energy has thrown nearly $8 billion in the direction of auto companies seeking to develop better plug-in cars. The most recent investment — announced today — delivers a $1.4 billion loan to Nissan North America, which will use the funds to retool its Tennessee factory to build the next generation of electric cars, as well as the batteries that will power them.

“This is an investment in our clean energy future,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “It will bring the United States closer to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and help lower carbon pollution.”

Nissan aims to use the loan to support production of its all-electric LEAF, with the goal of eventually producing 150,000 cars and 200,000 battery packs a year at its Tennessee plant. The plan is touted as being a way to conserve up to 65.4 million gallons of petrol a year … which sounds like a lot, compared to the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez (10.8 gallons), but is actually less than one-fifth the amount of motor gasoline the US consumes in one day.

In other words, we’re going to need a lot more than a few hundred thousand LEAFS to kick the petroleum habit.

Still, Nissan has started trying to enable the petrol-to-plug-in revolution by partnering with assorted cities, counties, states and electric companies to pave the way for a network of car-charging stations across the country.

Two other car-makers — Fort and Tesla — have embarked on similar programmes with the aid of government funds. Ford closed a $5.9 billion loan with the Department of Energy last September, while Tesla last week nabbed $465 million to built facilities in California for manufacturing electric power-trains and its Model S electric sedan.

In all, the Energy Department plans to provide up to $25 billion in direct loans to companies that can make cars and car parts in the US that help boost fuel efficiency by at least 25 per cent over 2005 levels.

9 thoughts on “US banks billions on an electric-car future”

  1. grupa jurgena

    DAS FUNKTIONIERT WIRKLICH Sergio Marchionne
    Hallo wir möchten Automobilhersteller für unser Projekt mit dem Namen
    Leonardo da Vinci begeistern. Die Prozedur ist Baterieunabhaengig und
    gibt den Autos eine unbegrenzte Reichweite und ein sorgenfreies Fahren
    ohne nachzutanken*. *Bei unserer Arbeit sind wir in eine ganz andere
    Richtung als der weltliche Automobilmarkt gegangen. Leonardo ist ein
    Geraet welches selbst Energie erzeugt und erlaubt dem Automobil ein
    unabhaengiges fahren ohne Zeit und Kilometerlimit. Das Geraet konkuriert
    preislich mit Energietraegern wie Benzin oder Diesel. Leonardo nutzt
    diese Energiequellen nicht. Das Projekt ist leicht verschtändlich in
    Beschreibung und Konstruktion. Es ist einfach zu produzieren,
    kostenguenstig und konkuriert sehr mit Benzinmotoren. Bei der
    Konstruktion erschienen wissenswerte Erscheinungen, welche uns
    überraschten. Die Anlage funktioniert nicht nur mit Automobilen welche
    mit Energie versorgt werden, sondern es kann auch die Stromtechnik mit
    Energie versorgen, wie Legobausteine welche in Städten angebracht werden
    und es kann auch Elektrizaetswerke mit Strom versorgen ohne mit der
    Ökologie in Konflikt zu geraten.

    Wir möchten in der weltlichen Automobilindustrie ein Interesse wecken,
    sowie Gespräche um die Zukunft und das gemeinsame Projekt für die
    Automobilindustrie führen.

    Wir glauben, dass man 2012 mit der Herstellung der elektrischen Autos
    mit der Anlage beginnen kann, ohne staatliche Zuschüsse.

    Wir bitten bei Interesse um Kontaktaufnahme. Grupa Jurgena bjpost@web.de

  2. I saw a different blog mentioning Orlando FL considering parking lots with plugs. That begs a question. If an electric car gets 40 miles of range in a Florida WINTER (where it’s like a Chicago Late Spring), how much shorter will the range be in a Florida SUMMER? Ever been to Orlando in July? I can only say you don’t want to be Finnish, Russian, Inuit, etc.! Given the sprawl, a 30 mile drive to the charging parking lot will work in January, but cut on the A/C, and you’ll have some explaining to do for your boss. Or, leave it off and piss off coworkers with your B.O. (and explain why you “don’t shower” to your boss)

  3. Don’t base your arguments on an assumption of an oil shortage. The global reserves are even higher now than 30 years ago. That is because new technology has found much more, and a much higher percentage now can be recovered. Even Brasil now has 80 billion barrels of recoverable oil now. USGS revised it’s US shale oil reserves to 5 trillion barrels, up from 2.1 Trillion. Estimates of recovery of the Bakken oil is up over 10X because of new technology. And new technology can recover much more from old oil fields. Whether you love or hate oil, America has over $40 TRILLION in recoverable oil. To make electric cars means transfering thousands of dollars per car to China.

    Only consider the economics of fuel use(not the carbon issue). Which saves more $ for the US – oil or electric cars?

  4. China has a monopoly on the rare earth elements (REE) critical to making electric cars. They announced that starting 2012, China will no longer export many of the 17 REEs, but rather will sell the finished components. Japan has had to buy much of its REEs from the Chinese black market.

    A Prius takes 2-4 pounds of neodynium. Since ecopoliticians forced the closure of US REE mines, where are you going to get the materials to make electric cars in the US?

    Read NYT article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/business/global/01minerals.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

    Further, electric car manufacturers admit, most production really only is to placate environmentalists, that their cars aren’t really ready for prime time. Read the Top 20 Quotes from Toyota and Honda about electric cars http://www.h2carblog.com/?p=577.

  5. Welcome to the world has put on yet unknown to anyone working on a program called the Leonardo da Vinci, which gives them an amazing range of cars abandoned with the battery plug the flash is stronger than the sun, which the group says Jurgen, who is waiting on the world, which helps reduce emissions, CO2, 50% if we are to begin production of electric cars we all have to start talking about the future of the project Leonardo project is ready to implement immediately! TO global investors invest in the project Leonardo da Vinci, your act will come to a zenith of profitability is the flash which brightens EU-US Leonardo is the driving force, which the levers of the global economy knees Kassel Germany Jurgen

  6. Many electrical vehicles will also have on board generators to charge them when needed, including while parked. The generator could be swapped as needed to run on many types of fuel: gasoline, diesel, ethanol, natural gas, methane, hydrogen etc. Service stations will offer many types of fuel including electricity.

  7. I’d like to know how much money if any that the oil companies are investing in the battery/electric vehicle technology space. We’re going to run out of oil sooner rather than later!

  8. Interesting that you mention the Tesla. That’s a little bit of a different beast than your average vechile. The Tesla is a supercar – the 0-60 rating is unbelievable.

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