President Obama’s visit to Smith Electric Vehicles in Kansas City, Mo. last week was just a warm-up. This week, the White House has a full-on electric car and battery offensive in the works (h/t Detroit News).
The name of the game seems to be heavyweight manufacturers (read: big employers, keeping with the jobs theme that Obama emphasized at Smith last week).
On Thursday Obama is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking of lithium-ion cell maker Compact Power’s stimulus-backed, $303 million plant in Holland, Mich., which is expected to employ 450 people within three years. General Motors has tapped Compact Power, a Michigan subsidiary of South Korea’s LG Chem, to supply the batteries for its upcoming plug-in Chevy Volt.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, the executive director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, Ed Montgomery, will on Thursday be heading to a GM plant awarded a $105 million stimulus grant to start cranking out electric motors, which the automaker expects to create about 200 jobs.
On Friday, Department of Energy chief Steven Chu is heading to Delphi’s facility in Kokomo, Ind. Delphi scored an $89.3 million grant under the Recovery Act to help boost the company’s manufacturing and engineering capacity for electric vehicles.
That’s not all. Other administration officials, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will also be stumping for the administration’s electric vehicle investments this week. And on the other side of the politics equation, the Electrification Coalition (made up of Nissan, NRG Energy, PG&E, A123 Systems, GridPoint, and others) has ramped up lobbying efforts with the launch of a new ad campaign promoting the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act, which would direct billions of dollars over five years for a small number of “deployment communities” to set up infrastructure for vehicle recharging.
Amid this swarm of activity, however, the overarching issue for electric vehicle and energy storage players ranging from Silicon Valley to the Beltway is whether, when, and how the Senate will proceed with crafting stalled climate and energy legislation, which could shape the market for emission-reducing technologies more than anything else in the next few years — and which was notably absent from Obama’s speech at Smith Electric Vehicles last week.
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