Electric Vehicles Strengthen American Competitiveness

Note: This is a guest post from Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program.

In his 2007 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush declared that America was addicted to oil. He was not alone in this view, because presidents, national security experts, economists and others have asserted the same.

Dependence on foreign oil requires our military to protect oil shipping routes, forces us to deal with regimes that may not share our national security interests and has cost the U.S. economy more than $5 trillion on expenditures for foreign oil and related GDP reductions since the 1970s, according to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. One way to reduce this dependence is to deploy vehicles that are powered in other ways. Developing and producing advanced-technology vehicles will help the United States maintain leadership in the global clean energy race and enhance its national security.

The transportation sector accounts for 70 percent of petroleum consumed in the United States and provides significant opportunities to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Close attention has been paid to the progress of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including hybrid electric vehicles, in the United States, and we believe the future remains bright despite some challenges endemic with any emerging technology.

More than 1,270 electric drive vehicles are sold daily in the United States, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association. Worldwide, the number of vehicles is expected to increase from 700 million to more than 2 billion by 2050, and the annual global market for advanced batteries could reach $100 billion by 2030, according to Pike Research, a leading market research firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean energy technology markets.

Currently, the United States leads in PEV manufacture and deployment: The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are produced and sold domestically, and the United States has higher sales of electric drive vehicles than other nations, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. But if America wants to seize the opportunity presented by this growing market, it must do more.

Pew’s research
indicates that for the United States to compete effectively in the rapidly expanding clean energy sector and reduce dependence on foreign oil, we must adopt national policies that will spur private investment in technologies such as PEVs. In the growing domestic PEV sector, cities, states, utilities and manufacturers are working together to develop local policies to spur greater adoption of plug-in vehicles and charging infrastructure. But national policies are needed to support the development of local markets and provide incentives for consumers to purchase these vehicles. As with airplanes and semiconductors, federal policy should also lead by example through expanded procurement activities such as adding electric vehicles to the fleet of government cars.

Public investment in clean energy research and development, especially advanced batteries and related components, is necessary to ensure that American entrepreneurs continue to turn out the best technologies in this growing sector. Countries such as China, Japan, France, and Korea are dedicating billions to advances in battery technologies in order to lower PEV costs over the long term and take the lead in manufacturing. They are also using incentives to spur private-sector innovation and create consumer demand.

Under President Bush, temporary purchase incentives were adopted, and the current administration continued to expand opportunities for PEV deployment at the federal, state and local levels. Both administrations saw promise and invested in developing advanced battery technologies. These targeted public investments in battery technology development helped secure additional private sector investment in the projects as well.

Policy matters. With fierce competition from abroad now is not the time for America to relinquish its lead in advanced battery innovation and the manufacture of electric vehicles. Simply put, the United States should continue to support electric vehicle and technology innovation, because the economic and national security benefits of cleaner vehicles powered by affordable domestic electricity-rather than foreign oil-are too significant to ignore.


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Nimue Pendragon

We gotta get rid of the oil dependence, anything towards that end must be good.

Darryll Green
Darryll Green3 years ago

Monica, the problem is the people who need it most, can't get it, so only the wealthier can afford it

Original Message:

Darryll - my comment stated "if you can". That covers it.

Original Message:

what about the people who don't live near a bus route or live to far away from work to ride a bike, have to depend on the car they bought years ago and can just barely afford to fix them to keep them running, without enough money to buy one of these energy efficient cars and don't have between 200 and 600 dollars a month to buy a new car, over 60% of the population fit this catagory, don't they count

Original Message:

Monica left a comment on the following article:

Electric Vehicles Strengthen American Competitiveness
Good article. Yes, policy matters. Along with EVs, the US also needs to replace coal-fired electricity with appropriate renewable generation. We at Care2 can help. We can use less oil - go car-free if you can. We can also help groups that promote cycling, walking and appropriate public transport.

Monica D.
M D.3 years ago

.. and a big policy issue is the fossil fuel subsidies, which must be stopped.

Monica D.
M D.3 years ago

Good article. Yes, policy matters. Along with EVs, the US also needs to replace coal-fired electricity with appropriate renewable generation.

We at Care2 can help. We can use less oil - go car-free if you can. We can also help groups that promote cycling, walking and appropriate public transport.

Beverly G.
bev g.3 years ago

yes we need them not petrol. we can use water. even

Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak3 years ago

Hawaii is pushing for Electric vehicles very hard. There are free charging stations being installed in all the shopping centers. Ev can use the HOV lanes with only one person in the vehicle. There are reserved parking stalls down town with charging available at the parking stall

Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle3 years ago

Strange that Republicans would oppose this.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago


Darryll Green
Darryll Green3 years ago

great article, to bad that the people who need this type of technology, can't afford it, over 50% of america makes $50,000 or less a year, chevy volt basic model cost over $32,000, if you devide that by 60 months the cost is well over $500 a month, after all of the bills and food and gas a month, nobody i know can afford one, if the auto companies wanted to the could convert almost any motor to electric except it woudl not be profitable for them, so don't expect to see a car that can get unlimited milage from electricity affordable anytime soon

Craig H.
Craig Hemphill3 years ago

David Blume has written several books and gone to DC to speak about them. He does not like the power companies. He states that with plug in cars, now the power company will make more money at night, when they generally lost it. that will raise demand and then expense will follow. He writes about how we need to stop using corn and start using prairie grass, as one example, that is cheap to grow, harvest and is more fuel efficient than corn. Also, I had a client that turned water into hydrogen to be injected directly into your engine. It worked. See Motor Trend 1986, Omni TC3 4 cylinder. Also, why can't we downsize diesel/gas generator electric power. Just like the diesel trains. Those "diesel" trains are making electricity to pull all those rail cars! It can't be that hard to put a generator in a car to run and electric motor. Also, back in the 1980's The Wall Street Journal ran a great article on a battery that gave the power and distance (300+ miles) per charge. The terminals degraded for the power and had to be replace. Time to replace=15 minutes. Cost=$1.50 per gallon of gas. Just so much more out there!