President Obama today visited the Daimler Trucks North America plant in Mt. Holly, N.C., where he announced a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to spur deployment of clean, advanced vehicles in communities around the country. This latest announcement supports the administration’s goal to ramp up the average fuel efficiency requirement to 54.5 mpg by 2025. In doing so, the administration estimates that national oil consumption would be reduced by 2.2 million barrels a day, compared to today’s rate. Further, it would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Daimler facility was chosen to highlight the ambitious SuperTruck initiative, which is focused on cutting 18-wheeler fuel consumption in half by 2015. While long-haul trucks represent only 4 percent of the on-road vehicles in America, they are responsible for almost 20 percent of the country's on-road fuel consumption.
To spur development and sales of electrified and alternative-fuel vehicles, Obama spelled out a "Race to the Top" challenge designed to get 10 to 15 communities to invest in alt-fuel infrastructure. Further, the president proposes expanding tax incentives to apply to a wider range of fuel-saving technologies; scale the incentives up to $10,000; make credits available at point of sale; and remove the limit on how many vehicles are eligible from each manufacturer.
In addition, there is an “EV Everywhere” initiative intended to make electric cars affordable to the average household within the decade.
President Obama said:
As a country that has 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, but uses 20 percent of the world's oil -- I'm going to repeat that -- we've got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent. What that means is, as much as we're doing to increase oil production, we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.
These proposed plans focus on reducing petroleum consumption and in the long run, promise a large reduction in operating costs for consumers and commercial truckers.
Ultimately, these efforts should help General Motors ramp up Chevrolet Volt sales, which have recently diminished to the point where there are about 4,000 cars in standing inventory and the factory has been idled until demand catches up with supply.
In related news, both Chevrolet and Ram announced CNG-fueled trucks for public sale coming later this year.
Learn more about alternative fuels in our Green Corner.