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The technology is there

Yesterday, several members of the President's energy and environment team attended the Washington auto show. We asked Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, to jot down some notes with her impressions of the show.
12:58 p.m.: Greeted by Auto Alliance CEO Dave McCurdy and his staff at the D.C. Auto Show. We headed upstairs to see the latest Chevy and Ford plug-in hybrid models.
1:05 p.m.: First stop: Chevy Volt. Ed Welburn, the chief designer for GM, was there and ready to show us around. It was a great opportunity to have the people who craft these vehicles from start to finish on hand explaining their design features in person. I found the Volt to be very comfortable -- and surprisingly simple. You plug it in and you can get 40 miles on a single charge! Because nearly 80% of Americans commute 40 miles or less a day, this car could potentially provide 80% of Americans with a zero-emissions option for their commute.
1:20 p.m.: We slowly made our way to the Ford exhibition, where we saw the new Ford Fusion. This is another example of a technology that will benefit from funding for battery investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- the kind of forward thinking that we ought to be encouraging and supporting.
1:30 p.m.: On our way to the Green Cars exhibit, Dave McCurdy stopped to emphasize the importance of green technologies and green jobs in the auto industry. This kind of innovation and shift in design is key to the renewed success of the American auto industry.
1:35 p.m.: When we got to the Green Cars Floor, we were met by members of the media who were covering these groundbreaking new vehicles. Lou Rhodes, of Chrysler, showed me some new electric models. I was struck by the accessibility of these cars -- they are on the cutting edge of technology -- and so much of that technology is here today and affordable.
1:58 p.m.: We wrapped up and headed back to the office.
The technology is there. And the demand is there. And now, in the face of our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and a faltering economy, there is urgent need to support the industry and nurture this kind of development. That’s why passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is so crucial -- because it brings significant resources to develop new and emerging green car technologies as well as tax credits for consumers to purchase new advanced technology vehicles.