Obama Unveils Largest-Ever Investment in Advanced Batteries

President Obama announces $2.4 billion in grants to speed the manufacturing and deployment of the next generation of batteries and electric vehicles

As part of the $787 billion stimulus package approved in February, Congress agreed to include $2 billion in research and development grants for advanced battery technologies, and today, speaking in Elkhart, Indiana, the President announced that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will fund 48 new advanced battery and electric drive components manufacturing and electric drive vehicle deployment projects in over 20 states.

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The President said the announcement marks the single largest investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles ever made.

According to President Obama, the highly competitive process overseen by the Department of Energy will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles.

“If we want to reduce our dependence on oil, put Americans back to work and reassert our manufacturing sector as one of the greatest in the world, we must produce the advanced, efficient vehicles of the future,” President Obama said.

“I don’t want to have to import a hybrid car,” added Mr. Obama. “I want to be able to build a hybrid car here. I don’t want to have to import a hybrid truck, I want to build a hybrid truck here. I want the cars of the future and the technologies that power them to be developed and deployed right here, in America.”

The President made the announcement at Navistar International Corporation. Navistar will receive a $39 million grant to manufacture electric trucks which the company reports will ultimately create or save hundreds of jobs.

Speaking to reporters about why the President chose Elkhart, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “the President wants to go and make an announcement about something very important, the largest investment in electric battery technology… the President wants to share that news with a county in Indiana that’s been hit tremendously hard.”

The awards announced today include:

  • $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce batteries and their components and to expand battery recycling capacity;
  • $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce electric drive components for vehicles, including electric motors, power electronics, and other drive train components; and
  • $400 million in grants to purchase thousands of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles for test demonstrations in several dozen locations; to deploy them and evaluate their performance; to install electric charging infrastructure; and to provide education and workforce training to support the transition to advanced electric transportation systems.

Obama enlists Biden and cabinet to help tout grant program

As part of a multi-pronged executive strategy to bring attention to today’s big news, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari and Vice President Joe Biden fanned-out across the country, speaking at manufacturing sites that will benefit from the grant program. See map of grant recipients (pdf).

Speaking in Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden said that, “For our nation and our economy to recover, we must have a vision for what can be built here in the future – and then we need to invest in that vision.”

“We have to build on Detroit’s rich past,” Biden said. “We also need to have a vision of what can be a richer, better future and then we need to invest in that vision.”

According to reports, Michigan stands to get $1.36 billion of the $2.4-billion in federal grants, creating up to 6,800 jobs in the next 18 months and up to 40,000 in the state over the next 11 years.

Other recipients for the federal grant monies (pdf) include several colleges and universities, as well as major corporations, including, Johnson Controls, General Motors, Honeywell, BASF, Smith Electric Vehicles, Ford and Chrysler.

Image via Argonne National Laboratory

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Timothy B. Hurst

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.