The Trump administration has proposed 2018 budget cuts wiping out R&D funding programs that had been tapped into for new electric vehicles, clean fuels, and efficient energy.

The proposal would eliminate the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATMVP) and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The Trump administration thinks these funds should be diverted elsewhere in the budget as the private sector is now better positioned to back its own research and commercialize these innovative technologies.

Trump would like to see a $54-billion increase in defense spending that would be offset in cuts to other departments. DoE would see a $1.7 billion cut for the next fiscal year. Of the $28 billion in the DoE’s budget funding, about $1.4 billion will be increased for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

ATMVP has played an important role in the launch of plug-in vehicles in the U.S. market. Under the Obama administration, fund recipients included General Motors, Ford, and Nissan, for development of their first mass market electric cars. In 2013, Tesla was proud to finish paying back its $465 million low interest loan through the DoE program, nine years earlier than had been required.

The Tesla loan payback followed a presidential election year where Republican candidate Mitt Romney attacked the Obama administration and DoE for loans lost to bankrupt companies Fisker Automotive and the Solyndra solar energy startup. Tesla had been included in the critique as well.

ARPA-E is known for providing incubators for new cleantech companies and energy sources. At its annual summit last month, visitors were able to learn all about the DELTA energy efficient heating and cooling system, the TERRA biofuel project, and an energy converter tapping into tidal wave power.

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Greentech Media reported that several leading speakers at the summit voiced concerns over federal funding collapsing. At the time of the conference in late February, the Trump administration had announced its intention to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $54 billion; that would be taken away from other federal agencies.

Startup and major vehicle manufacturers have been able to tap into R&D projects in partnership with universities and DoE-backed research centers. Suppliers have also been part of these projects, including electric vehicle charging station makers, battery companies, and component manufacturers.

Green Car Congress