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May 272009

From Green Right Now Reports

Enmeshed in the worst business conditions in decades, America’s auto companies are trying to envision the coming world of transportation. For Ford and Chrsyler, the future is starting to look electric.

Both companies are pushing for federal funds to develop new elctric vehicle programs. Chrysler LLC has submitted a $448-Million plan to the U.S. Department of Energy for the rapid development and manufacturing of electrified vehicles. And Ford has also proposed to the DOE a national pilot project to promote the use of electric vehicles.

Chrysler LLC said yesterday that it has applied for two initiatives established by the DOE — the Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative and the Transportation Electrification Initiative. Both are designed to speed development, demonstration, evaluation and manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs). The program would be a 50/50 partnership with $224 million coming from Chrysler and its partners, combined with a matching $224 million from the DOE.

“These initiatives represent how government and the automotive industry are answering the challenge of reaching common goals and demonstrate how rapidly this type of advanced technology can be brought to market in a collaborative environment,” John Bozzella, senior vice president of External Affairs and Public Policy at Chrysler, said in a statement. “Without U.S. innovation and production capacity, we will simply trade batteries for oil in the pursuit of transportation energy.”

If approved, Chrysler said it plans to use funds to build a test fleet of more that 365 PHEVs and EVs, as well as create a new-vehicle electrification technology and manufacturing center located in Michigan. The proposed vehicles include a Dodge Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid, a Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid and an electric version of the Chrysler Town & Country.

Chrysler said it has established more than a dozen partnerships with city and local governments, research and development authorities, utility companies and universities to test the new vehicles. Through a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, Chrysler plans to deliver 165 Chrysler Town & Country electric cargo minivans for daily mail service in four regions throughout the country.

Ford’s proposed national pilot project for electric vehicles includes a request for a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the project.

The automaker plans to supply a group of utility companies with plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and battery electric vehicles for use in daily operations. The utilities would develop and install “smart” charging facilities for the vehicles. The data from the vehicle use and charging systems will be shared and used to help shape the future power infrastructure needed to meet consumer needs.