Last night, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reiterated his support for expanding U.S. production and sales of plug-in cars that run on grid power.
Today, according to the Detroit News, a slew of policy changes will be unveiled by Vice President Joe Biden to advance that goal. Among other initiatives, the Administration will propose to convert the present $7,500 income-tax credit for electric-car buyers to a direct purchase rebate.
Purchase rebates, effectively refund checks that arrive within weeks of the buyer taking delivery, are widely accepted to be more effective than income-tax credits. Not all buyers qualify for such credits, and they can take as long as 15 months to realize, since they can only be claimed when taxes are filed the next year.
The president reiterated his campaign-trail goal of having one million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, a number that many industry analysts consider to be a stretch above what's possible.
2011 Chevrolet Volt
In his address, Obama returned to themes of clean energy and oil independence, setting an even more audacious goal of having 80 percent of the nation's power produced from "clean energy" sources by 2035, a quarter of a century hence.
The President said he will ask Congress to end billions of dollars of tax breaks for the oil industry, which he called "yesterday's energy" and use those funds for higher investments in a variety of clean-energy programs.
In roughly three weeks, Obama will release his budget proposal, which White House officials said would include an additional $2 billion in funds to enable more regions and communities to install infrastructure to support plug-in vehicles. That would primarily include recharging stations, both public and private.
Today, Biden will visit a lithium-ion cell plant in Mount Comfort, Indiana, owned by Ener1 [NASDAQ:HEV], where he's expected to announce further details of the president's proposals.