President Barack Obama celebrated the opening of an advanced battery plant in Michigan on Monday as a critical boost for hybrid and electric cars - and a success for his administration's economic stimulus program.
But even as mass-produced advanced batteries start rolling off assembly lines, costs are high for consumers, and hurdles remain.
"This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America, an industry that's going to be central to the next generation of cars," Obama said Monday in a phone call broadcast at the opening of A123 Systems Inc.'s lithium ion battery plant in Livonia, Mich.
"And it's going to allow us to start exporting those cars, making them comfortable, convenient, and affordable. .... When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: 'Made in America,'" Obama said, according to a transcript of the call released by the White House.
Fending off criticism of the $814 billion stimulus program, the administration has cited the battery industry as one of the success stories. With new facilities coming online in the Midwest, battery manufacturers for the advanced vehicles are providing a test case for the government's attempt to revive the economy.