A demand seems to have surged in America: people want clean energy and fuel-efficient cars. Americans appear to be getting tired of relying on oil. To meet that demand, U.S. auto companies are striving to prove to the public that electric car technology is feasible.
But it looks like other countries are leading America by example.
Japan's Oppama factory in Tokyo manufactures Nissan's electric, eco-friendly Leaf car. According to the Economist, Nissan plans to make 50,000 Leafs in Japan this year. The Oppama plant employs around 2,100 workers, about two-thirds of whom are full-time, full-benefit employees that have been carefully trained.
In Scotland, thanks to a $172,000 low-carbon vehicle grant from the Scottish government, social workers in the Scottish Borders will be given a pool of electric cars to use, reports TheGreenCarWebsite. These cars will most likely be Nissan Leafs. The remaining portion of the funding will pay for a small network of charging points for the vehicles.
According to Jim Fullarton, executive member for roads and infrastructure on the Scottish Borders Council, "It's a great trial for social work." He cited the low cost "to fill the tank of the car, compared with the current fuel prices."
Finally, according to People's Daily, China plans to make a million electric vehicles a year by 2015. China's new plans for the auto industry will make electric vehicles a national priority, the report says.
So where are we in regard to progress in the U.S.?
California-based Tesla Motors plans to launch its new Model S., a full-sized battery electric sedan, in 2012. United Auto Workers Region 5 Director Jim Wells emphasized, "Tesla should hire the workers who give it the best chance for success: the workers whose productivity has garnered awards for the facility and who have turned out highly profitable automobiles. That means they understand how to work smart and work safe."
In New Jersey, lawmakers are expecting a surge in electric cars in the next two years. On February 14, a bill to set up charging stations along New Jersey's toll highways cleared a state Senate committee 3 to 2. Legislators and environmentalists agreed that public charging stations are key to cutting pollution. The stations would be built on parking lots in most of the service areas of the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and the Atlantic City Expressway.
Even so, it's apparent that America needs a stronger spark to get the country going in developing electric car technology.
In his State of the Union address President Obama noted, "We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions of taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."