Have you no faith in the power of the oil, car, and tire companies ability to stop any such legislation from being passed? My gosh, they have the best Congress money can buy. Kidding aside, it appears that few of the comments come from people who actually read the article. I would hope that engineers would check out the facts and not simply react since everyone wants to jump all over the government. As fun as it may be, this country is facing some serious problems and maybe some thinking should happen before we dismiss everything just because it was suggested by a Senate committee. They can and should set the goals, provide funding if possible, but leave the engineering details to the people actually attempting to build the electric cars.
The government should just get out of the way and let the free market work. Command economies always end in failure.
Unfortunatelly, America keeps sliding towards more statism. Please put a stop to this insanity!
Transportation using alternative energy should be on the level of a national Grand Challenge - with incentives, but not laws requiring compliance. Congress passed mileage laws starting in the early 70's after the first gas crisis and they were never met and had no accountability in any case. (Unless you consider the fact that consumers voted with their wallets and purchased foreign vehicles that were not gas guzzlers). Why would this be any different?
It has occurred to me that there is room for legislative fiat, but not in the determination of engineering advances. The place for some serious govenment rule-making is in the number of distractions that would be allowed for the driver in a car. Some rules there could benefit almost everyone. Another discussion talks about the information overload, and how it is becoming a problem. The challenge, of course, is that the features are added to provide "product differentiation", rather than to satisfy any actual need. My solution would be to take the automotive dashboard back to the early 1980's, and any additions would need to be demonstrated to improve either safety or reliability, prior to letting them be sold. Some people would complain that it would be stifling creativity, which may be a very valuable thing to do.
The other thing that I see as a problem with legislating solutions is the presumption that there is really nothing in the way, and that all the engineerig people have to do is just pull the solution, which they presume exists and is practical, out of some pocket, and what ever problem is suddenly solved. In other words, the actual creativity and skill of our profession is overlooked, and even denied, and we are equated to those cookie-cutter diploma-mill MBAs that are the source of so many of our problems today. And for those who are offended by that last remark, try to find a reason that it is not correct!
@Pubs : The government has not mandated our use of the internet, only funded the development. The growth of the internet was independent of government pressure, and in all likelyhood has been slowed by FCC actions. On the other hand, the government bureaucracy has been an early adopter of internet technology for making available information and documentation related to our everyday lives (e.g., driver's license and auto tag renewal is online in AZ).
The government funds development of other good things, like those giant trash trucks that pick up those giant trash bins in front of our houses. Like the internet, the government holds title to the IP for that technology, and it has certainly brought a benefit to our communities at a very low cost.
On the other hand, the government is not deeply invested in the development of electric cars, and has done nothing to guard the necessary raw materials. We watch with apprehension as the Chinese government limits exports of the necessary materials for batteries and rare earth elements for advanced technologies, and makes agreements with African nations for materials not available in China. Yet the U.S. government has never acted to take title to what little IP it has funded, leaving those "details" to the corporations that are pressing the technology. Of course, our U.S. tax dollars will be given willingly to anyone that wants to buy solar cells or electric cars, without expectation of any significant or even long-term return on that investment.
One or two more comments on having 50% of the cars be electric powered vehicles seem to be appropriate. Who will service these wonderful machines? This is not a trivial question, since there are a few safety concerns. Battery packs do not "switch off" and become safe, that invisible 320 volts is there just waiting to do something. And most people can't see electricity, so it is going to be a very interesting scene as service is needed for the EVs. Another concern is about what happens after the car has lived it's useful life. What will become of the battery pack, which will probably still be able to hold enough charge to be dangerous? What will happen to the drive motors and the associated electronics, which will be fairly high powered, at least by comparison to todays consumer electronics? Along with that question comes another, which is what about the proven reduction in reliability of the lead-free electronics? Who will be willing to accept the failure of their $9000 control module because of a poor soldered connection? These are a few questions that need answers before the widespread proliferation of EVs happens.
I'll duck the greater discussion on politicicised science and engineering here. This particular fiat isn't just about producing items, it's also a dictat to the population to buy them.
The UK is going through a similar example right now with the dictat for windmills to generate electricity.
I always laugh when I read anti-government screeds on a medium essentially created by government paid-for-researchers for which nobody pays a royality for using the technology.
Give wha JKaplanIP wrote, sorry this is just an invective against we the people through our government attempting to set critical goals. There are projects which cannot and would never be handled in the private sector, and which require the resources of we the people, our government.