Drivers of the approximately 16,500 highway-worthy electric vehicles in the U.S. can choose from 4,448 public charging stations should they want to plug in someplace other than home or work, according to U.S. Energy Department data.And of course, ethanol is not wildly popular with the Republican Tea party base outside farm states.
That's one per 3.7 electric cars, such as Nissan's Leaf or Tesla's Roadster. That compares with 2,468 places to fill up the 7.6 million vehicles that can run on E85, a fuel that is 85% ethanol. E85-capable vehicles, also known as flex-fuel vehicles, can run on either E85 or traditional gasoline.
The Obama administration is pushing for still more charging stations, with $230 million worth of support from the Energy Department and private investment:
Ecotality received funds under the federal program to install 14,000 chargers in 18 metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia.
"Electricity is the flavor of the month, just as others have had their time in the sun, electricity is now there," said Brett Smith, co-director of manufacturing, engineering and technology at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Is this a long-term technology or is it just that flavor of the month?"
Smith cited E85 and hydrogen fuel-cell cars as examples of technologies that have been favored by the government before the Obama administration chose to promote electric vehicles through policy and spending. [More]
But this year is an exception because the party, under increasing influence from the Tea Party, has pivoted on the subsidy. This summer, many Republicans in Washington voted to end the $6 billion-per-year ethanol subsidy. Though it ultimately survived, subsidies have become a rallying call for fiscal conservatives looking to cut waste and Tea Partiers who don’t want government ‘picking winners and losers.” No other candidate is as uncompromisingly for the subsidy than Newt. Mitt Romney, who has been vague on the issue, most recently says that while he initially supported the subsidy, should not “go on forever” — hardly a comforting position for Iowa farmers. Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul have all come out against the subsidy. [More]Finally, the antipathy on the right for the EPA doesn't really reassure ethanol producers either.
You live by the subsidy, you die by the subsidy, I guess. In this case it looks like the whole political spectrum is a threat.