Dozens of auto companies, suppliers, and battery makers have sought a total of $38 billion from a federal loan program to develop fuel-efficient vehicles, an AP article reported this morning. Alongside Ford and Nissan, two automakers that have EVs in the pipeline that will also get government funding in this new proposal, Tesla will receive roughly $465 million to build electric drive trains and vehicles.
“By supporting key technologies and sound business plans, we can jumpstart the production of fuel-efficient vehicles in America,” US Energy Secretary, Steven Chu said. Though, as Chu later alludes to, this will definitely help create more jobs and hopefully reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, it also begs the question if this is the best use of the money.
Wouldn’t it also be worthwhile to dedicate funds to creating an infrastructure that will support EV usage? I mean, we can have all the Tesla Roadsters zooming around our streets as we want, but where are they going to get charged? And if we don’t have the right systems in place, will their use actually be better for the environment, considering that the energy use to recharge the EVs needs to be generated somewhere?
Shai Agassi, the charismatic head of Better Place, has been a major proponent of the EV revolution for quite some time now. However, Agassi argues that without the proper infrastructure in place, without charging stations throughout strategic transportation arteries that source clean, renewable energy, EV usage could actually be worse for the environment and economy.
So then, is this news of Tesla government funding a step in the right direction to reduce the transportation industry’s huge environmental footprint, or yet another moment of missing the mark?