Washington, D.C., January 31, 2011 — Vice President Joe Biden, Chair of the Middle Class Task Force, took the "White House to Main Street Tour" to Greenfield, Indiana, where he visited leading manufacturer Ener1, Inc., which produces advanced lithium-ion battery systems for electric vehicles, grid energy storage and industrial electronics.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted his goal of making the U.S. the first country in the world to put one million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015.
Following a tour of the Ener1, Inc. factory, the vice president met with workers to discuss the administration's new plan for reaching that goal.
"As you heard President Obama say last night, this Administration is forging a new path forward by making sure America doesn't just lead in the 21st Century, but dominates in the 21st Century," said Vice President Biden. "We're not just creating new jobs-but sparking whole new industries that will ensure our competitiveness for decades to come-industries like electric vehicle manufacturing."
Ener1, Inc. was awarded a $118.5 million grant from the Department of Energy — part of a $2.4 billion Recovery Act investment nationwide — to expand its production of advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.
That grant is making it possible for Ener1 to expand its current manufacturing and assembly operation from 336 workers at its Indianapolis manufacturing and assembly facilities to over a thousand by the start of 2013. In 2010 alone, Ener1 added 120 jobs at its Indianapolis plants.
The administration's new three-part advanced technology vehicle plan will include supporting electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption in the U.S. through generous new consumer rebates, investments in R&D, and a new competitive program to encourage communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.
In 2008, the president set a goal of putting 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015 — which would reduce dependence on foreign oil and lead to a reduction in oil consumption of about 750 million barrels through 2030.
To reach that goal, President Obama will propose in his Budget a new effort to win the future by supporting advanced technology vehicle manufacturing and adoption in the U.S. through new consumer rebates, investments in R&D, and competitive programs to encourage communities that invest in advanced technology vehicle infrastructure.
* Making electric vehicles more affordable with a rebate up to $7,500: The president is proposing to transform the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles into a rebate that will be available to all consumers immediately at the point of sale.
* Advancing innovative technologies through new R&D investments: Building on Recovery Act investments, the president's budget proposes enhanced R&D investments in electric drive, batteries, and energy storage technologies.
* Rewarding communities that invest in electric vehicle infrastructure through competitive grants: To provide an incentive for communities to invest in EV infrastructure and remove regulatory barriers, the president is proposing a new initiative that will provide grants to up to 30 communities that are prioritizing advanced technology vehicle deployment. This approach builds on bipartisan ideas and proposals.
The president's budget proposes to make the United States the world's leader in manufacturing and deploying next-generation vehicle technologies through three new initiatives, expanding funding for vehicle technologies by almost 90 percent to nearly $590 million and enhancing existing tax incentives:
* Making electric vehicles more affordable and accessible for American consumers: A transformation of the existing $7,500 tax credit into a rebate will give consumers the ability to receive this benefit at the point of sale, similar to "Cash for Clunkers." The current individual credit will be reformed into a tax credit claimable by dealers or financers with clear transparency requirements to ensure the benefit of the credit is passed on to consumers.
* Advancing innovative vehicle and battery technologies through increased R&D: Increased investments in R&D will be critical to the deployment of new technology. ARRA and prior year investments are already making progress on advanced technology vehicles through research initiatives like an ARPA-E grant to develop a battery that will go 300 miles on a single charge. This year's Budget will significantly broaden R&D investments in technologies like batteries and electric drives — including an over 30 percent increase in support for vehicle technology R&D and a new Energy Innovation Hub devoted to improving batteries and energy storage for vehicles and beyond.
The FY 2012 budget will expand this initiative so that that up to 30 communities across the country would receive grants of up to $10 million each on the basis of their ability to demonstrate concrete reforms and use the funds to help catalyze electric vehicle deployment.