"As the president said last night, by 2015 we will have one million electric vehicles on the road," Biden said, referring to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last night. "Once America has set a goal as a nation, we have never, never not achieved it," the vice president told Ener1’s 350 Indiana employees and invited guests during a presentation at the company’s Mt. Comfort plant.
The vice president visited Ener1, a leading manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries, to witness the company’s progress since receiving a $118.5 million federal stimulus grant in 2009. Biden commended Ener1 for its success in leveraging federal funds to attract private capital, in creating hundreds of new jobs for automotive industry workers and contributing to U.S. innovation in electric-drive technology.
The vice president also seized the occasion to announce a new federal program to accelerate the wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles. Under the proposed initiative included in the president’s upcoming budget, 30 deployment communities, cities and towns across America, would be selected on a competitive basis for federal grants to support financial incentives for car purchases and charging infrastructure development, among other measures. The president is also asking for an almost 90-percent funding increase to nearly $590 million for advanced vehicle technologies.
Biden was introduced by Ener1 battery assembly line worker Wendy Howard, supported in the audience by her three sons and father. Before joining Ener1, Howard was downsized out of a job assembling pumps for power steering systems at a failing automotive plant. "Now I make these hi-tech batteries for electric cars that don’t disturb the environment and don’t drink up oil that we don’t have."
Ener1, a principal investor in the dedicated electric vehicle manufacturer THINK™, had several cars on display at the event and demonstrated a two-seat urban commuter model for the vice president. The THINK City vehicle, which went on sale in the U.S. in December, is manufactured in the city of Elkhart, Ind. President Obama selected Elkhart in 2009 to announce $2.4 billion in electric-drive grants, the single-largest investment in advanced battery manufacturing in American history.
"The honor of being paid a visit by the vice president of the United States at our plant, and of being the site of an announcement of this magnitude for the nascent electric drive industry, is truly a reward for hard work," commented Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer. "The employees of our company certainly all deserve it."
Ener1, Inc. is a publicly traded (Nasdaq: HEV) energy technology company that develops compact, lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for the transportation, utility grid storage and consumer markets. Headquartered in New York City, the company has more than 700 employees with manufacturing locations in the United States and Korea. Ener1 also develops commercial fuel cell products, nanotechnology-based materials and manufacturing processes. In collaboration with strategic partner and electric vehicle manufacturer THINK, Ener1 also manufactures electric vehicle drive train products.