Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama delivered an energy policy speech in Lansing, MI yesterday, a key pillar of which is the goal of putting one million plug-in hybrids on US roads by 2015. Obama's proposal would help offset the initial cost of the ambitious program by providing up to $7,000 in tax credits to consumers, and it calls for additional spending on advanced battery programs. The most unusual feature of the senator's proposal, however, is its desire to convert the entire White House fleet to plug-ins "as security permits" within one year of an Obama administration arriving at 1600 Pennsylvania.
The energy plan also calls for an increase fuel economy standards 4% per year, up to $4 billion in retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers to support their manufacture of the new fuel-efficient cars, a mandate for all new vehicles to be flex-fuel vehicles, and a call for America to develop next-generation biofuels and the required infrastructure.
Jalopnik Snap Judgment: We're as wary of campaign promises as the next guys, but some of the elements of Obama's proposal make sense. While a plug-in White House fleet is just a nice PR move, significant tax credits that encourage people to take a chance on new technology is good for both consumers and automakers. Additionally, while we don't think any US automaker bailouts are a good idea, providing loan guarantees and retooling tax credits for domestic manufacturers will provide them with needed breathing room as they realign their product mix. Do they deserve that breathing room after gorging themselves on trucks for a decade? Debatable, but to paraphrase: You go to market with the car companies you have, not the car companies you want. [Green Car Congress; Photo Credit: Gizmodo]