June 11th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
What if tens of millions of cars and trucks could connect to the electric grid instead of using gasoline? What would be the impact on oil dependence, global warming, and family pocketbooks? How can the government support the development of plug-in vehicles?
We'll be trying to answer some of these questions today and tomorrow at a conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution and Google.org: "Plug-in Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington?"
Why is Google interested? One of the priorities of Google and our philanthropic arm, Google.org, is to do our part to tackle global climate change. Our RechargeIT initiative is working on advancing plug-in vehicles, which reduce emissions by increasing vehicle fuel economy, and our Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative is working on developing renewable energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. We hope that one day soon millions of vehicles will be plugging into a greener grid.
Washington has the potential to put a real charge into plug-in vehicles and the grid that will power them. Potential first steps include: increasing federal vehicle R&D for batteries and other key technologies; procuring plug-in vehicles for the federal fleet; providing tax credits for car buyers; and setting new standards.
Plug-in vehicles also require that the auto industry partner with electric utilities. The plug-in vehicles we expect to see over the next few years will remain small-volume curiosities if we can't figure our how to successfully fuel millions of cars and trucks from our electric grid. Washington has a role to play in accelerating the integration of vehicles into the grid and supporting real-time pricing and other mechanisms that incentivize the economic use of electricity.
The good news is, people - voters - are ready for plug-ins. Check out this data from a recent poll. You can also watch a webcast of the conference.