On Wednesday President Obama announced $2.4 billion in Recovery Act funding was being awarded for an electric drive vehicle battery and component manufacturing initiative.

"For too long, we've failed to invest in this kind of innovative work, even as countries like China and Japan were racing ahead," he said. "With these investments, we're planting the seeds of progress for our country and good-paying, private-sector jobs for the American people."

"If we want to reduce our dependence on oil, put Americans back to work and reassert our manufacturing sector as one of the greatest in the world, we must produce the advanced, efficient vehicles of the future," said President Obama.

The money is distributed as follows:

* $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce batteries and their components and to expand battery recycling capacity;
* $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce electric drive components for vehicles, including electric motors, power electronics, and other drive train components; and
* $400 million in grants to purchase thousands of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles for test demonstrations in several dozen locations; to deploy them and evaluate their performance; to install electric charging infrastructure; and to provide education and workforce training to support the transition to advanced electric transportation systems.

As noted, the bulk of the funds went to battery makers for use in creating battery manufacturing facilities. Johnson Controls was awards $299 million, A123 got $249 million, and EnerDel got $119 million among others.

Included in this category as well was General Motors and Compact Power Inc. GM received $105 million for the production of their Brownstone MI Chevy Volt battery pack assembly plant. Compact Power, subsidiary of LG Chem, was awarded $151 million to produce its lithium ion manganese cells that will be used in the Volt program.  LG Chem will be using these funds to build a US plant.

GM also received an additional $105 Million to be used for "construction of U.S. manufacturing capabilities to produce the second-generation GM global rear-wheel electric drive system."

Since the Volt is a front wheel electric drive system, this suggests GM has something new in store for us with the second generation Voltec vehicles.

Finally, and most interesting, GM also received $30 million in another category. This money is to be used to "develop, analyze, and demonstrate hundreds of Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs) --125 Volt PHEVs for electric utilities and 500 Volt PHEVs to consumers."

This certainly looks like GM plans on getting 500 Chevy Volts into the hands of US consumers for fleet testing sooner than the November 2010 launch date, with some sources saying perhaps as early as the summer of 2010.

I officially asked GM spokesperson Kerry Christopher about this.

"We're excited about working on this project but not in a position to release specific details at this time," said Christopher. "We just found out this morning that we would be receiving the grants. When we have information ready to share, you'll be one of the first to know."

Source ( DOE )