PHOTO CAPTION: The U.S. White House - South Lawn view

What Will McCain and Obama Do About Plug-In Hybrids?

John Platt reports McCain would offer a $300 million battery prize, while Obama immediately replace The White House fleet with plug-in hybrids.

Published: 12-Oct-2008

With four weeks to go until the presidential election, it's time to start thinking about the potential impact that Barak Obama and John McCain will have on the environment over the next four years. One area where both candidates see a future is in hybrid vehicles.

Each candidate has expressed a desire to bring plug-in hybrid cars off the drawing boards and into our garages.

McCain's plan is simpler, and hinges on the thought that plug-in prototypes are not quite ready for prime time. McCain told ScienceDebate2008.org: that he would create a "$300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. -- a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency – and curb the dangerous effects of global climate change."

Obama, on the other hand, is ready to start buying hybrid vehicles right now. According to his web site, Obama wants to use government buying power to jump-start the commercial market for plug-in hybrids. He promises to convert all White House vehicles to plug-in hybrids within one year (as long as that doesn't create any security issues). After that, he says he'll mandate that half of all new vehicles annually purchased by the government are plug-ins in just four years.

Obama's energy platform promises a $150 billion investment over 10 years which will, among other things, "accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids." He wants to put a million plug-in hybrids on the road in seven years, and will push for a $7,000 tax credit to help make that happen. He also promises $4 billion in "retooling tax credits" to manufacturers so they can be ready to put plug-ins on the road and repair them.

Interestingly, neither the Green Party nor its candidate Cynthia McKinney appear to have a specific policy about hybrid vehicles.

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Earth Policy Institute's Lester Brown offers another way to fuel the cars of the future that doesn't require a switch to natural gas.

Despite Toyota's disapproval of the $500 deposit on future plug-in Prius, one dealer plans to continue accepting them.

Chrysler circulating plug-in hybrid prototypes to dealers more advanced than earlier models. Pictured is the Chrysler EcoVoyager, in one of a trio of electric-drive concept vehicles it debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.


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