U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced $119 million in research grants to help develop hydrogen-powered vehicles at the annual Washington Auto Show, which began on Jan. 25.
Bodman said that the Bush administration is concerned about job losses in the automotive sector and that investing in technologies of the future will help create jobs.
However, environmentalists and some auto company executives argue that the hydrogen technology promoted by the Bush administration is decades away and that more needs to be done in the short run.
Also at the show, automakers showed off their own answers to rising gas prices and the nation’s growing dependence on foreign oil. Ford unveiled a new Escape gas-electric hybrid (albeit still under development) that also burns ethanol.
GM displayed the Saturn Vue Green Line sport-utility vehicle, saying that it would get 20 percent better fuel economy than comparable non-hybrid Vue models. Meanwhile, DaimlerChrysler showcased its BlueTec diesel technology in an effort to lay to rest claims that diesel engines are too dirty and cause health problems.