Reaction To Obama Administration's Push For Electric Vehicles

Published in the October 2010 Issue October 2010 News

The Obama Administration is wrongly pursuing a policy of electric vehicles at the expense of other technologies, states the CEO of BorgWarner, a major auto supplier.

"The U.S. government is going a bit too far in trying to dictate the powertrain technologies of the future," BorgWarner chairman and CEO Tim Manganello told the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars as quoted by the Detroit News. "It's difficult to compete globally when governments try to pick the winning technologies and the direction changes from administration to administration."

During the Bush years hydrogen-powered vehicles were in the limelight, but since Obama has taken office, the thrust has been to support the electric-powered auto industry, a move that has left some diesel makers unhappy. Clean diesel is a technology that Manganello thinks is being ignored. He also said that if clean diesel had 33 percent of the market share it would save the United States 1.4 million barrels of oil each day.

"We should speak up when we feel government is going too far in the wrong direction," Manganello said during the seminar. "I don't think the government should be picking and choosing technologies."

On the opposite end of the coin, Obama had words of praise for auto makers like GM that have turned their attention to electric-powered vehicles, saying that the production of the new Chevrolet Volt was part of the future and would decrease the need for dependence on foreign oil during a speech at a GM plant in Detroit in July.

Manganello did say he agreed with the government push for fuel economy and leaders from companies like Hyundai, Ford Motors and BMW North America echoed the sentiments he expressed.

While encouraging innovation, discussion and what the consumer wants, the auto industry execs also cited the need for the government to avoid specifying detailed solutions.

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