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George W. Bush, Father of the Modern Electric Car

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President Bush 2007

President Bush 2007

While we're basking in the short spring between presidential elections--sort of--it's time to acknowledge the debt owed by electric cars, not to today's crop of bureaucrats, but to the bête noire of progressives everywhere, President George W. Bush.

Some critics think the electric-car subsidies in place today belong to the current White House, but those line items actually are the product of Bush's second term, and they're the root of the real electric cars you can see, buy, drive and recharge today.

Before Obama raised CAFE requirements, Bush did it. And if you're looking for the stroke of the pen that created the burgeoning world of EVs around us, that stroke came from Bush's pen.

Of course, any big entitlement program has many fathers and mothers. In electric cars, the parents are everyone from the engineers who worked on the Chevy Volt's battery pack to the team that hashed out the Leaf's charging system.

Drilling deeper into the past, before the most recent oil shock, takes us to 2007's Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Presidents traditionally get credit for the actions taken below their pay grade, but in Bush's case, there's every reason to attach him to the bill beyond his signature, and to modern electric cars, reasons beyond drowning out the tired "Halliburton big-oil buddy" chant. After all, President Bill Clinton outmaneuvered the GOP on balanced budgets, and put his name to welfare reform--and rightly gets the win for signing his name to history.

Bush gets credit for the energy bill, which was the cumulative work of both parties but landed on his desk in direct response to his State of the Union address in 2007, where he called for incentives to drive down gas consumption by 2017 within ten years. He explicitly linked gas mileage and electric cars with national security--something the EV makers themselves should be doing almost as often as they promise to green up the planet.

Electric cars are real cars

With an investment of $7.5 billion, Bush and Congress underwrote $25 billion in loans that's translated directly into the Leaf, the Volt, Ford's electric Focus, the Think City, and Tesla and Fisker's leap from paper to plant. Now, almost five years later, we have mass-market electric cars. It's anathema for some progressives to give Bush credit for anything--just as it's anathema for more strident conservatives to see any good coming from any social engineering. They didn't like his prescription-drug coverage, either.

It's worth pointing out those electric-car incentives are distinct from the GM and Chrysler bailout loans, which upended the usual bankruptcy process in the hopes of stabilizing the industry as a whole--a move still as divisive today as it was in 2008.


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Comments (21)
  1. Bet you that black lady in the pic with President Bush voted for Nobama! lol and the people buying all these Hybrids are left-wing nut-jobs. Cant make everyone happy can you?
    :-)
     
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  2. You may have a point. But, even a blind pig will find an acorn one in awhile.
     
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  3. I cited at least three examples where Bush deserves some revisionism, so let's call it three acorns and counting.
     
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  4. I still think EV's/Hybrids are a "White Elephant" for two reason:
    -who in their right mind is going to want to buy a used EV/Hybrid with say 80K +- miles knowing full well that the battery warranty is only good for 100k miles.
    -you are stuck with the dealer when it comes to service save maybe an oil change.
    Good luck to all you folks whom haven't through this all through.
     
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  5. Those battery estimates are turning out to be quite conservative. Our Prius is out of warranty and doesn't show any signs of degraded performance.
     
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  6. Now you've done it, Marty. You KNOW this is gonna tick off all the same folks who were in denial when it was reported that Bush's ranch was energy efficient and Gore's house was a black hole as far as energy consumption.
    Oh, and the battery in my 180k '05 Prius is still goin' strong...
     
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  7. Exactly right. Bush signed the $7500 tax credit for EVs. Although to be fair, he limited it to the first 200k cars sold. Obama expanded it to the first 200k per manufacturer, which is significantly larger. And other credits are being considered. See this post:
    http://fordfocuselectric.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=260
     
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  8. 200 thousand is a lot of vehicles! The K somehow diminishes that number
     
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  9. Like you said, I don't really care what "good" Bush did; he destroyed so much and almost put us all back to the middle ages on many fronts. I'll be reasonable here though... Marty and I are both in GA, waiting for our LEAFs and we're exited about the $7.5K. But guess what, Marty, when push comes to shove, you'll be lucky to get half of it. I'm obviously no expert on your financial situation/income but with a few assumptions (single, mortgage, reporter), I'll bet you 50 bucks your bottom line Fed liability (after all the deductions) wasn't $7.5K this year. So unless we get the POS rebate, the current incentive looks better on paper and it's almost useless for most people. GA's $5K rocks though and can be spread over 5 years if needed.
     
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  10. It Hydrogen / Natural Gas or bust for me to by a car of the future.
     
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  11. So, what kind of EV does Mr. Bush drive? Has he been seen in an EV? The claim made in this article while perhaps true, is inconsistent with other events of the 2000s.
    During the Bush administration, GM and Ford recalled and CRUSHED (http://www.evsroll.com/GM_electric_cars.html) thousands of electric cars, despite the protests of thousands of EV lease owners and drivers.
    It was private companies like Tesla, and DIYers who actually demonstrated the possibilities of the EV.
    Mr. Bush may have signed the paperwork, but it seems unlikely that he was behind the effort.
    EVsRock!
     
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  12. "Inconsistent" is wrong when "true" is true. It wasn't Bush out there bringing EVs back for the scrap heap--that was GM and Ford, as private companies, doing as they saw fit. Clearly, sending in the National Guard to protect those EVs was not an option, though you might wish it was. I think the possibilities of the EV were demonstrated first in the early 1900s, but I wasn't there, so I can't vouch.
     
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  13. I would gladly give up every shred of energy saved by Bush's signing of the tax credits for plug-ins (not just battery electric cars), and those first CAFE increases (superseded by the ones enacted under Obama), for the lives lost, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars wasted, and damage to our international reputation incurred by Bush embarking on a war of choice by invading Iraq on pretenses that were, at best, questionable. And I suspect most fervent electric-car supporters and CAFE junkies might feel the same.
     
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  14. @Michael - The pic was taken in 2007 and who was she supposed to vote for a year later? For the flip-flopping nut-job called McCain and the psycho Palin? If that pair would make you happy then you need asylum care yourself. There was no and there is no alternative to our Prez for another 5 years.
     
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  15. For the record, I'd rather have comments cast no aspersions on any person in the photo, on any personal level. Also for the record, I believe it's our president's job to act on confirmed threats to our security, that there's no logic in trading energy saved for energy we'd have to purchase from a regime that encouraged rape and genocide--and that we had a unique window of opportunity to resolve Iraq under cover of UN resolutions, that we took the shot, and that history will continue to revise that into something closer to wisdom.
     
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  16. @Marty - Point taken but how is that different from currently supporting and buying even more oil from the regime that arrests women for driving, the regime who paid for education and sponsored nineteen of twenty 9/11 attackers? You know, the regime that also spawned Osama? That's one invasion I'd support in a heartbeat... Yet, we continue to call them our "friends." I'd also replace this article's photo with a more appropriate photo of Bush holding hands or kissing Abdullah - you take your pick :-)
     
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  17. That's not an uncommon pose for presidents, you know, it's a ceremonial formality. As for the Saudi support, it's brutal and unacceptable what they do, but we cooperate, deal with the devil, so we don't risk our own instability. There's no place for purists in politics.
     
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  18. Are you people insane? see the movie WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR. Bush put the final death on the clean air mandate of 1990 that was going to phase in electric powered cars, it was intelligent. Unlike George "texas oil sheik" Bush. He finally saw the light too late and it became obvious how stupid that decision Bush made was as the economy spiraling into recession BECAUSE OF OIL PRICES! Obama tried to introduce several bills to make EV's more affordable but the REPUBLICANS killed them. Now, some of the same people are blaming high gas prices on HIM! I own EC because I was looking 20 years ahead. I've tracked all these bad decisions over the past years and it just amazes me how many short sighted people still don't see that oil is killing us
     
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  19. LIARS!!!!! We had the Chevrolet EV-1 in 2001 getting 130 miles per charge. KILLED by Bush. Crushed by big business. I hate our process that stifles innovation. Think about it, one mind plowing example, cars have been running on liquid gas for 130 years. Vapor gas is much more efficient, more powerful….have you seen any cars running on it??? NO, only back yard mechanics who do what big oil won’t let happen.
     
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  20. Just to put the facts straight Billy Bob Joe, Vapor gas is not more efficient or more powerful it only burns cleaner, And Matt Evs do not require oil changes.
     
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  21. Marty, as has been pointed out, Bush got it wrong in 2001 before he got it right in 2007: it was the Bush administration's joining an already in-process lawsuit by the major auto manufacturers against the California Air Resources Board's Zero Emission Mandate that forced the CARB to so water-down the ZEM that those manufacturers were able to recall the few electric cars they had out on lease and crush them. What no one has mentioned is how Chevron bought the patent rights in 2001 to the nickel metal-hydride traction batteries that made the newer models of this first generation of electric cars run so well. Since Chevron has the NiMH traction battery patent locked up until 2014, everyone must use Li Ion batteries untried in traction apps.
     
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