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USA: Obama Embraces Natural Gas Vehicles In A Billion Dollar Way

President Obama today used a visit to a Daimler plant in North Carolina that makes trucks that run on natural gas as a platform to promote his energy agenda, and in the process continued to push the green-vehicle envelope.

Among other things, the president touted a $1 billion “Race for the Top”-type challenge for alternative vehicle infrastructure development in up to 15 cities and a boost in the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit from $7,500 to $10,000. These are ideas the president has talked about before, but they were offered with new twists this time around—an enthusiasm for including natural gas vehicles in the programs.

image via the White House

For instance, the credit for electric vehicles, while increasing in value, would also cover “a broader range of advanced vehicle technologies,” according to a White House fact sheet. The White House didn’t specify what it meant by that, but news reports said the incentive would be available for natural-gas powered vehicles under the proposal. And in his speech at the Daimler factory, the president mentioned cars that run on “electricity or biofuels or natural gas” and then said to the audience, “we’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars.”

The president has backed initiatives to encourage natural gas vehicles before, pushing the federal government to include such vehicles in its fleet purchases and backing development of natural-gas powered trucks. But blurring the distinction between natural-gas cars and electric cars is a new step, taken as EVs appear to be struggling to take hold in the U.S.
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