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Electric car grants worth $2.4 billion unveiled

Steve Hargreaves,
The federal government on Wednesday named which companies will get $2.4 billion in stimulus grants to develop batteries, parts and programs for electric cars.

The list of recipients — particularly those involved in making batteries — is being closely watched by analysts. The race to develop an economic, dependable electric car battery is tight, with many companies using competing technologies in an attempt to capture what could ultimately be a hugely lucrative market. Receiving government funding is seen as at least partial validation their technology is competitive.

“This is really new stuff, but the government has at least vetted their business plan,” said Michael Lew, an analyst with Think Equity in New York.

A total of 48 projects received funding. Many of the biggest projects are based in the hard hit Midwest, notably Michigan. The largest recipients include:…
(6 August 2009)

Automotive “Methadone Program” (AKA Cash for Clunkers) Leads to Relapse in Germany

David Friedlander, Treehugger
While the spotlight has recently shown brightly on the US iteration of the Cash for Clunkers program, Germany—whose program Abwrackprämie or “wreck rebate”—has been going at it since January. According to a NY Times article, Germany has dwarfed the US’s efforts, with a $7 billion dollar budget and timeframe through the end of the year.

All this is swell except for one detail: many of the polluting cars are not being scrapped.

Unlike the US, which has taken pains to prevent the cars from falling into the wrong hands by injecting sodium silicate into the oil pan, the German program has allowed the still operating cars to be dropped off at their nearest junkyard. 50K of these dirty and moribund cars have reportedly avoided demolition, according Ronald Schulze, an expert with the Association of Criminal Investigators. The cars are being sold on the black market and shipped to Africa, Eastern Europe and sometimes ending up back on the road in Germany…
(9 August 2009)

Related: Nate Hagen’s Campfire post on the Oil Drum

High-speed rail in Spain: From Madrid to Barcelona in a flash

Giles Tremlett, The Guardian
Ana Portet has had an unusual commute to work. At 7.30am she popped down to Sants railway station in Barcelona. Three hours later she was in a meeting with colleagues from her brewery firm, 315 miles away in Madrid.

“I’ll be back in Barcelona by half past five,” she said as her early afternoon bullet train flew back along the new high-speed tracks at up to 210mph. “It’s so quick, sometimes you are there before you have even noticed.”

Portet is one of hundreds of thousands of travellers who have migrated from the world’s busiest air shuttle, linking Madrid and Barcelona, to what is now Spain’s most popular train, the high-speed AVE.

The AVE, an intercom announcement has just told us, will leave us in the centre of Barcelona in two hours and 32 minutes. With Madrid’s AVE station a short walk from the Prado museum, the journey is from one city centre to another. What is more, the high-speed train does this in punctual, hassle-free and elegant style.

High-speed trains pulled by aerodynamic engines with noses shaped like a duck-billed platypus are grounding aircraft across Spain. The year-old Barcelona-Madrid line has already taken 46% of the traffic – stealing most of it from fuel-guzzling, carbon-emitting aircraft. As the high-speed rail network spreads a web of tracks across Spain over the next decade, it threatens to relegate domestic air travel to a distant second place…
(5 August 2009)