Speaking at a former recreational vehicle plant in Wakarusa, Ind., President Barack Obama today unveiled the details of an ambitious $2.4 billion grant program, which the White House hopes will boost production of electric cars and next-generation battery technology. The cash for the grant program will come from the recently-passed $787-billion economic stimulus bill.
"That's why I'm here today," Obama said, "to announce $2.4 billion in highly-competitive grants to develop the next generation of fuel efficient cars and trucks." All the vehicles, Obama said, will "be made right here in the US of A. Right here in America. Made in America. For too long, we've failed to invest in this innovative work, even as countries like China and Japan were racing ahead. That's why this announcement is so important."
Obama said the investment represented "the largest investment in this kind of technology in American history." And already, dozens of companies around the country have stepped forward to claim the grant money. One of them is Navistar, Inc., which is based in Wakarusa. According to eTruth.com, Navistar "will receive a $39.2 million grant to develop and deploy 400 advanced battery electric delivery trucks. The vehicles will weigh about six tons and have a 100-mile range," eTruth reported.
The grant money also extends to Michigan, which has been hit especially hard by the recession. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Michigan will get $1.36 billion of the $2.4-billion total – a substantial figure, which could help bolster the economy there. But as reporter Ron Dzwonkowski points out, "with battery grants, comes challenges":
It is clear from history that the innovative Americans with cutting-edge ideas in an emerging field will go where there’s money to make things happen. For now, in the area of electric cars, that will mean Michigan. The state’s challenge will be to deliver the workforce needed for these large-scale high-tech undertakings. High school diplomas won’t do it.
Watch the video of Obama's speech here: