McCain Proposes $300 Million Prize for Electric-Car Advance

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is proposing a $300 million government prize to whoever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology. Video by AP
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sen. John McCain yesterday proposed a $300 million prize, paid by the government, for the inventor of a better battery to power electric or hybrid vehicles, with the goal of spurring innovation to get Americans off their gasoline habit.

The Republican presidential candidate proposed the reward -- which equates to about $1 for every person in America -- along with tougher mileage standards for automakers and large tax credits for the purchasers of alternative-fuel, hybrid or electric cars in a speech in Fresno, Calif.

"Instead of playing favorites, our government should level the playing field for all alcohol fuels that break the monopoly of gasoline, lowering both gasoline prices and carbon emissions," he said. "In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success."

The $300 million prize would be given for "the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars," he said.

McCain has spent the past week focused almost exclusively on energy, reacting in large part to the spike in gasoline prices and the weakening economy. In Houston last week, he proposed lifting the federal ban on oil drilling along the country's coasts.

-- Michael D. Shear

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