Obama/McCain/GM/Ford Maneuver for Support on PHEVs
- Following up on our June 23 report on McCain's
proposals, http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/966.html here is the latest.
As we had expected/hoped, the candidates are
paying attention to each other's statements and
repositioning their own. They both agree that
plug-in cars are a good idea but so far, neither
has been as fully specific as we think is called
for in this situation (i.e. in relation to the
program proposed by Brooking Institution's David
Sandalow in his book, "Freedom From Oil"
The world is watching to understand their energy
polices; carmakers are waiting to factor in
federal policies as they decide how quickly to
move forward, and people looking at the business
opportunities in converting millions of internal
combustion engine cars, whose efforts may result
in the most near-term social benefits, are
watching to see if their vehicles will also be eligible for incentives.
Certainly, the race is on. In a story, "Obama,
McCain Zap Each Other on Energy Proposals,"
that otherwise doesn't cover any ground not
reported elsewhere, FOXNews.com on Tuesday, June
24, 2008, said, "The back-and-forth underscored
how rising gas prices are steering the political
debate just as much as the overall economic slump
or the war in Iraq." In the story below, the
Washington Post chimed in on what it called "the
latest skirmish over which presidential candidate
is better prepared to tackle the nation's energy and environmental problems."
In what follows, we will focus entirely on
plug-in cars and NOT on all critiques of other
aspects of energy policy and differences between
the candidates on offshore drilling, biofuels,
gas tax rebates, nuclear power, etc. Below you'll find excerpts from:
* Remarks by McCain + Clarification from James Woolsey
* Remarks by Obama
* Media reports on Obama in Pittsburgh and Las Vegas
* Media reports on McCain at Lordstown auto factory and in Santa Barbara
* Other resources
REMARKS BY JOHN MCCAIN on Energy Security and Our National Security
June 23, 2008-- remarks as prepared for delivery
at a town hall meeting in Fresno, CA:
Ninety-seven percent of transportation in America
runs on oil. And of all that oil, about 60
percent is used in cars and trucks. Yet the CAFE
standards we apply to automakers -- to increase
the fuel efficiency of their cars -- are lightly
enforced by a small fine. The result is that some
companies don't even bother to observe CAFE
standards. Instead they just write a check to the
government and pass the cost along to you. Higher
end auto companies like BMW, Porsche, and
Mercedes employ some of the best engineering
talent in the world. But that talent isn't put to
the job of fuel efficiency, when the penalties
are too small to encourage innovation. CAFE
standards should serve large national goals in
energy independence, not the purpose of small-time revenue collection.
My administration will issue a Clean Car
Challenge to the automakers of America, in the
form of a single and substantial tax credit based
on the reduction of carbon emissions. For every
automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we
will commit a 5,000 dollar tax credit for each
and every customer who buys that car. For other
vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower
the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.
And these large tax credits will be available to
everyone -- not just to those who have an accountant to explain it to them.
Furthermore, in the quest for alternatives to
oil, our government has thrown around enough
money subsidizing special interests and excusing
failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic
efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.
I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and
resolve of the American people by offering a $300
million prize for the development of a battery
package that has the size, capacity, cost and
power to leapfrog the commercially available
plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one
dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
-- a small price to pay for helping to break the
back of our oil dependency -- and should deliver
a power source at 30 percent of the current costs.
My friends, energy security is the great national
challenge of our time. And rising to this
challenge will take all of the vision,
creativity, and resolve of which we are capable.
The good news is, these qualities have never been
in short supply. We are the country of Edison,
Fulton, and two brothers named Wright. It was
American ingenuity that took three brave men to
the moon and brought them back. Think of all the
highest scientific endeavors of our age -- the
invention of the silicon chip, the creation of
the Internet, the mapping of the human genome. In
so many cases, you can draw a straight line back
to American inventors, and often to the
foresighted aid of the United States government.
CLARIFICATION: James Woolsey, energy advisor to
Senator McCain's campaign, has further explained
that there is not only a $5,000 credit for ZEVs
but credits close to that for near-ZEVs - which
include PHEVs. And his calculations for the
battery prize result in a goal of a 70 percent
improvement in batteries to get to 30 percent of
current cost. (In the CalCars-News posting cited
above, we had repeated an erroneous
simplification about how much better the battery needs to be.)
REMARKS BY SENATOR OBAMA as prepared for delivery
A Serious Energy Policy for Our Future
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 Las Vegas, Nevada
I commend [McCain] for his desire to accelerate
the search for a battery that can power the cars
of the future. I've been talking about this
myself for the last few years. But I don't think
a $300 million prize is enough. When John F.
Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man
on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some
rocket scientist to win he put the full
resources of the United States government behind
the project and called on the ingenuity and
innovation of the American people. That's the
kind of effort we need to achieve energy
independence in this country, and nothing less will do....
I have a very different vision of what this
country can and should achieve on energy in the
next four years in the next ten years. I have
a plan to raise the fuel standards in our cars
and trucks with technology we have on the shelf
today technology that will make sure we get
more miles to the gallon. And we will provide
financial help to our automakers and autoworkers
to help them make this transition. I will invest
$150 billion over the next ten years in
alternative sources of energy like wind power,
and solar power, and advanced biofuels
investments that will create up to five million
new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced;
that will create billions of dollars in new
business like you're already doing here in
Nevada. And before we hand over more of our land
and our coastline to oil companies, I will charge
those companies a fee for every acre that they
currently lease but don't drill on. If that
compels them to drill, we'll get more oil. If it
doesn't, the fees will go toward more investment
in renewable sources of energy.
When all is said and done, my plan to increase
our fuel standards will save American consumers
from purchasing half a trillion gallons of gas over the next eighteen years.
MEDIA REPORTS ON OBAMA'S MEETINGS WITH CAR EXECUTIVES
Obama: Federal funding needed to develop green cars
June 26, 2008 by Andrew Strieber
After responding to rival John McCain's recently
proposed $300 million battery development prize
by calling it a "gimmick" and countering that
more government resources will be needed to help
domestic automakers break America's dependence on
imported oil, Democratic presidential candidate
Barack Obama sat down with industry leaders over
the past two days to discuss the issue face to
face. In two separate group meetings, Obama
recently met with Ford CEO Alan Mulally and GM
head Rick Wagoner to share ideas and hear their concerns.
Though the senator's meeting with Mulally was not
public, the Ford CEO issued a statement calling
it "very productive," and saying "the vitality of
our economy will depend on our government seeking
a partnership with industry." With this in mind,
today Obama joined an economic roundtable with
Wagoner and other representatives at Carnegie
Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Though in the
past Obama has been tough on domestic automakers
for building too many SUVs, he began the meeting
by asking how the next president can help
domestic automakers cope with rising gas prices
and global warming. Wagoner responded that while
the Big Three are putting a massive effort into
the development of advanced powertrains, the
"application of these new technologies is pretty
expensive" and the government needs "to provide
some support" to help make them affordable. After
explaining that automakers' "relatively weak
balance sheets" make it difficult for them to
shift production lines and build smaller cars,
the GM chief also brought up his company's Volt
plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in a discussion of tax
credits. Designing the car's revolutionary
gas-electric system has proven more expensive
then anticipated, and GM will reportedly struggle
to sell the car at an affordable price. Tax
credits would help offset the added cost of new technology.
Noting a "surprising consensus" on fixing the
economy, the senator agreed with Wagoner that
federal assistance will be needed to help
American EVs and PHEVs compete against upcoming
products from Toyota and VW, among others. Though
the Department of Energy recently issued grants
to aid PHEV development, they totaled only $30
million -- Obama has proposed creating a $150
billion clean energy initiative, including money
to help automakers retool factories to build alternative-fuel cars.
Meanwhile John McCain will visit GM's Lordstown,
Ohio assembly plant tomorrow and continue to
discuss his own competing prescription for aiding
the ailing Big Three. The future of the American
auto industry has emerged as a major theme in
this year's presidential campaign, and if gas
prices continue their steady upward climb, no
doubt it will only continue to gain importance.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
U.S. automakers need federal research money, GM's Wagoner tells Obama
Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau
PITTSBURGH -- U.S. carmakers need a boost in
federal research spending and incentives for
consumers to adopt new and expensive
technologies, General Motors Corp.'s top executive told Barack Obama Thursday.
Obama kicked off a forum with top business and
academic leaders with a question to GM Chairman
and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, asking what the
next president can do to help domestic automakers
adjust to rising gas prices and increasing environmental concerns.
"We've got a lot of smart people working" on new
technologies such as battery-powered vehicles and
hydrogen fuel cells, Wagoner said, but government
support for basic research on new energy technologies is crucial.
"We need to keep in mind ... application of these
new technologies is pretty expensive," Wagoner
said. "We need to provide some support to make
sure these new technologies are affordable to consumers."
The exchange highlighted the attention Obama and
his Republican opponent, John McCain, have paid
to auto issues. Obama met Wednesday with a group
of business executives including Ford Motor Co.
President and CEO Alan Mulally; on Friday, McCain
will tour GM's Lordstown, Ohio, plant and meet with workers there.
Obama sparked criticism from many in the industry
last year when, in a speech at the Detroit
Economic Club, he criticized automakers for
failing to build more fuel-efficient cars -- a
speech he has repeatedly referred to in campaign ads and appearances.
But at Thursday's forum on the Carnegie Mellon
University campus, Wagoner sat just to Obama's
left on a stage with some of the nation's top
technology and academic leaders, and Obama kicked
off the forum by asking, basically, what he could
do to help lift the domestic carmakers out of their massive financial losses.
Referring to those losses and GM's recent
decision to close a series of plants -- including
a Wisconsin factory Obama visited during the
primary campaign there -- Obama asked, "How do we
shape our energy future in a way that allows GM
to remain competitive, keeps some of the best
workers in the world on their jobs and generates
profits for the company and shareholders?"
Wagoner sounded a note of optimism, noting GM's
plan to introduce the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet
Volt by 2010 and more advanced research on
hydrogen fuel-cells. But he said the researchers
developing batteries for hybrids and taking
hydrogen power from the lab to the highway need
federal research money. And he asked for
government help to offset the high costs of newer
technologies for consumers -- aid that
traditionally has come in the form of tax credits.
And Wagoner suggested that the carmakers'
"relatively weak balance sheets" make it
difficult for them to make the large capital
investments needed to shift production lines to new vehicles.
McCain Has Plan to Make Government More Green
By Juliet Eilperin and Lyndsey Layton Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 25, 2008; Page A01
washingtonpost.com readers have posted 295 comments about this item.
Republican John McCain said Tuesday the federal
government should practice the energy efficiency
he preaches, pledging as president to switch
official vehicles to green technologies and do the same for office buildings.
Sen. John McCain pledged yesterday that he would
make the federal government more environmentally
friendly, while Sen. Barack Obama mocked his
rival as crafting energy policies that merely
pander to voters, in the latest skirmish over
which presidential candidate is better prepared
to tackle the nation's energy and environmental problems.
In a speech in Santa Barbara, Calif., McCain
(R-Ariz.) vowed to "put the purchasing power of
the United States government on the side of green
technology" by buying fuel-efficient vehicles for
its civilian fleet of cars and trucks and by
retrofitting federal office space. The pledge
comes months after Obama (D-Ill.) outlined a more
detailed and ambitious proposal on the subject,
virtually ensuring that the next administration
will take significant steps to lower the
government's output of energy and pollution....
"Every year, the federal government buys upwards
of 60,000 cars and other vehicles, not including
military or law enforcement vehicles," McCain
said as he campaigned with California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, a prominent GOP environmentalist.
"From now on, we're going to make those civilian
vehicles flex-fuel capable, plug-in hybrid, or
cars fueled by clean natural gas."
McCain Offers Aid, No 'Bailout' on Autos
By JOHN D. STOLL and ELIZABETH HOLMES with Amy Chozick
Wall Street Journal June 28, 2008; Page A4
Detroit's calls for help from Washington are
gaining some traction, as both Republican John
McCain and Democrat Barack Obama this week let
auto-industry executives share the spotlight in
their presidential campaigns, and suggested they'd lend auto makers a hand.
During a meeting Friday at a General Motors Corp.
small-car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, Sen. McCain
said he doesn't support a "classic" bailout of
the ailing domestic car companies, but he laid out initiatives to help.
"It depends on what you mean by a bailout," he
said. "If you're talking about it in the classic terms, I'm afraid not."
But the Arizona Republican said he would offer a
spate of tax incentives and infrastructure
support aimed at encouraging innovation of more
fuel-efficient products and expanding
availability of alternative fuel. He vowed to get
involved in enforcing trade deals that may
disadvantage auto companies trying to export cars and parts.
On Thursday. Sen. Obama moderated a panel of
business leaders that included GM Chief Executive
Rick Wagoner. Mr. Obama, who last year scolded
Detroit for failing to focus on fuel efficiency,
struck a more sympathetic tone.
"Obviously all of you realize the market has
changed so you have every incentive to do so but
you may need some bridges to help get there,"
Sen. Obama said. Mr. Wagoner said he left the
meeting encouraged by Sen. Obama's questions and
willingness to help. The company is encouraged by
Sen. Obama's plan to invest $150 billion in green
technology ideas, many of which affect the U.S. auto industry.
Sen. McCain said he'd make the
research-and-development tax credit permanent,
and "would like to invest American federal
dollars" in the development of flex-fuel cars
that run on ethanol, in hydrogen-powered cars, and electric cars.
"I think once we develop that technology with
pure research and development then we've got to
hand it over to the private enterprise and the
automotive companies. I do not think we should be
in competition, but ... we have national
laboratories that are capable of coming up with a
lot of innovation and a lot of new technology."
GM North America Chief Troy Clarke joined Sen.
McCain for a brief plant tour before the
town-hall meeting. Mr. Clarke, talking to
reporters, said he is "encouraged" by the amount
of weight being given the auto industry thus far
in the election cycle. He said the auto maker is
engaged in "a technology race" with foreign
rivals and GM welcomes "a robust national debate on a solution."
In recent years, GM has been calling for reforms
on a laundry list of issues, from health care to
the dollar and energy diversity. Mr. Clarke, once
GM's labor chief, said the current focus on
energy will open up the opportunity to eventually
talk more in depth on all the pressures squeezing Detroit.
He said attention to how crucial the industry is
to fixing the energy crisis "is serving as an
accelerant" for the auto industry's entire body
of requests from the government.
Discussion of the McCain program by Joseph Romm at ClimateProgress:
Profile of McCain advisor Jim Woolsey in the Wall
Street Journal's special energy section:
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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