Mar 20, 2009 (From the CalCars-News archive)
While Pres. Bush came around in 2006 to support PHEVs, his actions were minimal. Pres. Obama has far exceeded his efforts, using his bully pulpit to highlight the opportunities and allocating billions of dollars in funds to plug-in cars. In a whirlwind trip to Southern California, he visited the Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center and appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Last summer and fall, with both candidates supporting PHEVs, we had attempted to bring them to the campaign foreground as candidates made their way through the hard-hit swing states of Ohio and Indiana. Yesterday, Pres. Obama gave the speeches we had always hoped for then -- including directly connecting plug-in cars, Detroit's future, and saving and creating jobs. Below we include quotes of what he said on TV and at the Center, plus links to photos and videos and official statements. And we clarify that the $2.4B he announced yesterday for PHEVs is not additional funds, but is part of the multi-billion dollar package we've previously described.
TONIGHT SHOW: Starting with the most public part: The broadcast attracted twice as many Tonight Show viewers as usual and may become one of the show's highest-rated broadcasts http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/2009/03/leno_obama_overnight_ratings.html . It's also viewable online; here's the best part (we'll comment on the rest of what he said at the end of this post):
LENO: Now, you mentioned cars a minute ago. You went to the electric car, you went to look at some batteries today. OBAMA: I did. It's spectacular what is being down now with plug-in hybrids, where not only are you getting the hybrid technology, but now you can plug it in at home in your garage. And potentially we could see cars getting 150 miles to a gallon of gas. And when you get home you could potentially sell the energy in your car back into the grid, back to your utility and get money.
WATCH THE SHOW: If you missed the entertaining event, right now, you can watch the entire interview online at http://www.tonight-show.com/season-2009/march-19-2009 (official site) or http://www.hulu.com/watch/63558/the-tonight-show-president-obama---full-interview . Or fast forward to 18:45 of 24:46 for the plug-in part. We plan to post a short video at http://www.calcars.org/audio-video.html to accompany our 20 seconds of Pres. Bush from Feb 20, 2006.
OBAMA STIRRING WORDS AT EDISON: Watch AP's 1:45 excerpt from his speech at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvGacRFX7XA . Here's the transcript of the clip:
"Now yesterday I was in Costa Mesa, talking about this economic downturn that we're in. It's downturn that's hitting this state as much as it's hitting any state in the union. One out of ten Californians are out of work and actively looking for jobs. The foreclosure crisis has had a devastating impact on Southern California in particular. But Californians aren't just bearing the brunt of this crisis. You are doing what needs to be done to overcome it. This workshop is a perfect example of that. Day by day, test by test, trial by painstaking trial, the scientists, the engineers, the workers at this site, are developing the ideas and innovations that our future depend on. It's your ingenuity that will help create the new jobs and new industries of tomorrow. I know it's not easy. There are days, I am sure, when progress seems fleeting, and days when you feel like you're making no progress at all. That's how it feels in the White House sometimes, too. (Laughter). But often our greatest discoveries are born not in a flash of brilliance, but in the crucible of a deliberate effort over time. And often they take something more than imagination and dedication alone, often they take a commitment and investment from government. That's how we sent a man to the moon. That's how we were able to launch a World Wide Web. And it's how we'll help to build the clean energy economy that's the key to our competitiveness in the 21st century. We'll do this because we know. As [name] just said that the nation that leads on energy will be the nation that leads the world in the twenty-first century."
TEXT OF COMPLETE SPEECH AT EV CENTER: http://www.energy.gov/news2009/7067.htm
OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENTS: See the press release, "President Obama Announces $2.4 Billion in Funding to Support Next Generation Electric Vehicles / DOE Support for Advanced Battery Manufacturing and Electric Vehicle Deployment to Create Tens of Thousands of U.S. Jobs" at at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-2-point-4-Billion-in-Funding-to-Support-Next-Generation-Electric-Vehicles/
This press release announces the availability of $2.4B in funding for "to put American ingenuity and America's manufacturers to work producing next generation Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and the advanced battery components that will make these vehicles run. The initiative will create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and help us end our addiction to foreign oil. Americans who decide to purchase these Plug-in Hybrid vehicles can claim a tax credit of up to $7,500." The release details $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce these highly efficient batteries and their components; up to $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce other components needed for electric vehicles, such as electric motors and other components; and up to $400 million to demonstrate and evaluate Plug-In Hybrids and other electric infrastructure concepts -- like truck stop charging station, electric rail, and training for technicians to build and repair electric vehicles. [See a similar statement at the White House Blog, http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_11951014 .]
IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION; Thanks to Plug In America's Jay Friedland for explaining that this announcement is not about new funds: "This is a combination of the $2B in Battery (EISA Sec 135 money) and $400M for deployment of plug-in infrastructure and vehicles. (EISA Sec 543B, H.R.1-pg.24). Both of these were already in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 so they are just new callouts, and DOE is actually starting to do something with the funding." For the details on those provisions, see our Feb. 25 posting, "Do You Realize Plug-Ins Get $5-$10+ Billion in Stimulus Package?" http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1048.html.
PHOTOS OF THE EVENT AT THE EV TECHNICAL CENTER: The President got a lot of information in a short time, including detailed briefings from engineers. Southern California Edison expects to have video and photos next week. Before then, you can see a great 14-photo slideshow from the AP, including many photos of the President viewing a PHEV conversion of the Ford Escape, as well as larger utility PHEV trucks, and walking and talking with attendees including Edison CEO Ed Craver, EV Director Ed Kjaer, and Senior Lead Engineer Loic Gaillac, directly at http://sgvtribune.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=714845&CategoryID=27239. or linked from http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_11951014 . For a few large photos, see http://www.newsday.com/business/nationworld/sns-ap-obama-electric-vehicles,0,7668264.story
EDISON'S PRESS RELEASE is at http://www.sce.com/Feature/Obama-EV-Tech-Center.htm as well as media backgrounders (PDFs on the Technical Center, etc.) The release includes several quotes from the President:
"This workshop is a perfect example of how Californians are doing what needs to be done to overcome the financial crisis....Here at Southern California Edison, and all across the country, in factories and laboratories, at the Big Three and at small startups, these innovations are taking place right now....At our best, we have never relied on hope and chance alone. Time and again, we have tapped those great American resources: industriousness and ingenuity. That, after all, is what California is all about. This is a state that has always drawn people who've had their eyes set on the horizon; who've always dreamed of a future that others thought beyond reach. That is the spirit that you are reclaiming here at the Electric Vehicle Technical Center, and that is the spirit we need to reclaim all across this country."
MEDIA REPORTS WITH OTHER QUOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Obama: Investment in energy research creates jobs, by Charles Babington (AP writer Mark S. Smith contributed to this report from Pomona) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5isOFwdbq0tsqatW6vJpkDRTI1gMgD9719SMO0 :
His economic message had the twin aim of touting the $787 billion economic stimulus plan and building support for his $3.6 trillion budget plan. Both put an emphasis on so-called green enterprises, like plug-in electric cars that are designed to be fuel efficient and kinder to the environment. "Even as our American automakers are undergoing some painful adjustments, they are also retooling and remaking themselves into an industry that can compete and win," Obama said. "And millions of jobs depend on it."
In Pomona, at the Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center, Obama got a look at its Garage of the Future, with a solar panel roof and a Ford Escape hybrid parked inside. Later, Obama toured a testing bay where white-coated technicians evaluate battery designs for electric cards. "It's spotless," he marveled. "Where's the grime? Where's the dirt?" Obama looked at an LCD displaying test results for batteries, was briefed on an environmental chamber where life cycle testing takes place and talked to technicians running tests on another Escape and a golf-cart-sized electric vehicle with its chassis open.
http://www.boston.com/cars/newsandreviews/overdrive/2009/03/obama_gets_peek_at_escape_plug.html iquotes him saying, "It's always nice to get out of Washington a little bit -- recharge your batteries," and reports, "Obama, who famously traded his Hemi Chrysler 300C for a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid to appear green-friendly at the start of his presidential bid, is shown above next to a plug-in prototype of his compact SUV." [includes large photo]
NEW YORK TIMES "The Caucus" Politics & Government" Blog: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/obama-tours-edison-plant-in-california/ : "Millions of jobs depend" on the work being done at plants like Edison, Mr. Obama said. He checked out prototypes of Ford electric and alternative fuel vehicles, asked lots of questions about batteries and marveled at the gas tank of a Ford Truck with plug-in technology, saying "Just like I got at home."
WASHINGTON POST "44: The Obama Presidency" Blog: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/03/19/by_scott_wilson_los_angeles.html?wprss=44 President Obama, in campaign mode, told workers at an Orange County electric-car factory that "it is your ingenuity that will help create the new jobs and new industries of tomorrow....The problem is that for decades we've avoided doing what we must do as a nation to turn challenge into opportunity," Obama told the audience of about 150 factory workers, students and public officials....As a consequence, we import more oil than we did on 9/11. The 1908 Model T -- think about this -- the 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than the typical SUV in 2008. Think about that -- a hundred years later and we're getting less gas mileage, not better, on SUVs. Even as our economy has been transformed by new forms of technology, our electric grid looks largely the same as it did half a century ago." On his 15-minute tour the Edison International Garage of the Future in Pomona, he looked over prototypes of Ford electric and alternative fuel vehicles. He asked workers in white lab coats questions about batteries, asking at one point "What's the holy grail?" of the alternative-fuel auto industry.
SECOND AP STORY: Obama's visit juices up small SoCal Edison plant where workers are developing electric cars, by John Rogers http://www.newsday.com/business/nationworld/sns-ap-obama-electric-vehicles,0,7668264.story
Whether President Barack Obama's California visit rallied sufficient support for his economic stimulus package remains to be seen, but his arrival Thursday definitely juiced the spirits of those who have toiled for years here building, testing and maintaining the kind of electric-powered cars Obama says are the nation's future. In the 16 years since it opened, Southern California Edison's Electric Vehicle Technical Center has quietly logged a number of firsts. Among them, the first consumer field test of General Motors' pioneering EV1 electric vehicle and first conversion of a heavy-duty, gasoline-powered boom truck to gas-electric hybrid. Edison itself maintains a fleet of more than 300 electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles that it says has logged more than 17 million miles.
But at a company whose name often lands in the news only after a power blackout, there was some concern about whether anybody was paying attention. "We've been at times feeling maybe a little lonely out there with our support for electric transportation," Edison International Chairman Ted Craver Jr. said after showing Obama around the plant. "To have this recognition, this exposure of electric transportation and what we have been able to accomplish is just a real thrill for the company."
At the center, located in a gritty industrial neighborhood sandwiched between auto repair shops and rattled by passing freight trains, more than a dozen employees test, maintain and repair vehicles, including those in Edison's fleet. "We're not just driving 'em around the track," Craver said. "We've got our own meter readers using electric vehicles, have been for years. We've got utility vehicles, the bucket trucks and that type of thing."
During his visit, Obama made the case for government investment of billions of dollars to develop fuel-efficient cars and provide an electric grid to support them. He called for putting 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles on America's roads by 2015. "It's certainly doable," Craver said of that figure. "Whether you capture everybody's enthusiasm and get the adoption, of course, is part of what all of this is about," he said of Obama's visit. "To get people to understand what the benefits are and how it could really be good for the system and good for the individual."
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES: Obama Presses Alternative-Energy Agenda, By Henry J. Pulizzi http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200903191520DOWJONESDJONLINE000926_FORTUNE5.htm "Show us that your idea or your company is best-suited to meet America's challenges, and we will give you a chance to prove it," Obama told workers Thursday at the Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, Calif...."We have a choice to make," Obama said. "We can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that will allow us to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy....These are challenging times, but we know we can do this," Obama said. "It won't come without cost, nor will it be easy. We've got 240 million cars already on the road. We've got to upgrade the world's largest energy grid while it's already in use. And other countries aren't standing around and waiting for us; they are forging ahead with their own bold energy plans."
A FEW QUIBBLES ON WHAT ELSE OBAMA SAID ON THE TONIGHT SHOW: Obama followed the statement we included at the start with "So we're going to be investing billions of dollars in research and development around these technologies." In fact, the government is investing not only in R&D but in deployment -- no one should imagine we need to wait for new "breakthroughs." And we were less happy that he followed up with a comment indicating that like many others, the President remains intrigued by the fuel cell smoke screen that touts an inefficient far-out solution many carmakers still promote along even as the immediately feasible plug-in solution gains momentum. And we also differ on the implications of the U.S. being behind on battery technology (or, for that matter, wind). This issue of international trade and competition is being used by some as a reason to slow down deployment in favor of R&D. Yet it ought to have NO IMPACT on necessary rapid transition to vehicle electrification and zero-carbon electrons -- regardless of who is ahead on any technology or who has the most manufacturing capacity.
OBAMA: I know that you were mentioning you've got a hydrogen car -- LENO: I've got the GM hydrogen car. That's a whole new -- OBAMA: That's a whole new level of technology. That's what's going to create the auto industry of the future. That's where we're going to win back manufacturing. But right now we're behind. These batteries are being made in Japan -- just like wind power is being made in Europe. We need to bring that here, and that's part of what my budget and part of what our Recovery Act is all about. TONIGHT SHOW TRANSCRIPT: