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Chu: Don”t give China head start on efficient autos


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Chu: Don”t give China head start on efficient autos

David Shepardson / The Detroit News

Washington — Energy Secretary Stephen Chu warned that the United States could fall behind in the race to develop advanced vehicles.

"China has developed a draft plan to invest $17 billion in central government funds in fuel economy, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric and fuel cell vehicles, with the goal of producing 5 million new energy vehicles and 15 million fuel-efficient conventional vehicles by 2020," Chu said in a Monday speech at the National Press Club.

The U.S. government has awarded more than $10 billion in loans and grants to boost electric vehicles, batteries and other advanced vehicle production. It will award another $16 billion in loans for advanced vehicles.

Chu said the Energy Department is funding research to get low-cost batteries for electric vehicles that can go 500 miles on a single charge — far better than vehicles about to come to market. The Nissan Leaf will be able to travel 73 miles on a single charge, according to its Environmental Protection Agency sticker, while the Chevrolet Volt will travel 35 miles on battery power alone.

"When it comes to innovation, Americans don't take a backseat to anyone — and we certainly won't start now," Chu said.

Batteries for vehicles based on the zinc batteries in hearing aids may one day provide a breakthrough, he said.

The department awarded $5.2 million to Arizona-based Fluidic Energy to work with Arizona State University to develop zinc "metal-air" batteries that can store many times the energy of standard lithium-ion batteries."There's a really good shot," Chu said.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101130/AUTO01/11300328/Chu--Don”t-give-China-head-start-on-efficient-autos#ixzz16oeRl8ax

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