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Give green-car industry a chance to get up to speed

The Dec. 8 front-page article “Obama’s green-car push struggles to pass ‘go’ ” missed the mark with respect to the emerging electric vehicle industry. The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market is less than a year old. Americans have already purchased 50 percent more PEVs than they bought hybrids in the first year those cars were introduced a decade ago. Furthermore, the amount of private capital that has gone into the PEV market dwarfs public investments. These private companies did not invest hard-earned capital just because President Obama set a national goal. Focusing on public investment ignores the much larger efforts to develop the PEV market, undertaken by thousands of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Experienced companies and start-ups in the PEV market are still trying to figure out their positions. Battery technology is evolving rapidly, and, as a result, costs are coming down. There will be ebbs and flows as consumers decide what kind of PEVs they want to purchase. Demand will drive the winners and losers here.

But the government can help jump-start the market, as it did with the 2009 Recovery Act. And the recently announced fuel economy standards should help, too. It’s simply far too early to make a call about where we’ll end up.

Judi Greenwald, Washington

The writer is vice president for technology and innovation at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

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