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USA: Project aims to lower heating costs for electric cars

WASHINGTON — As part of his plan to get 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015, President Barack Obama wants Congress to give buyers a tax credit of up to $10,000 next year.

Currently, the maximum is $7,500, and some Republicans scoff at the credit, calling it a subsidy for the wealthy, noting that the average yearly income of a Chevrolet Volt electric car is $170,000.

But engineers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, known as the PNNL, in Richland, Wash., are conducting research that could go a long way toward making the cars more affordable – not necessarily to buy, but to operate. And that could ultimately make the cars more popular with the public and help achieve the president’s target.

While internal combustion engines generate a lot of heat, making it easy to heat the passenger cabin in winter, electric vehicles produce very little excess heat. As a result, providing electricity for the same amount of heat can reduce their driving range by up to 40 percent.
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