Will President Trump Unplug Electric Cars?

The prevailing mood in the alternative fuels automotive community has been one of uncertainty since Donald Trump was elected president. That's the reading of John Voelcker, editor of Green Car Reports. He added: "There's a lot of fear."

Understand this: nobody knows what President-elect Trump has in mind regarding alternative fuel vehicles. His core energy policy is rooted in traditional fossil fuels - coal, oil, natural gas - but it offers no guidance regarding alternatives such as electric cars.

So right now consumers contemplating an alternative fuel vehicle purchase - maybe $35,000 for a Chevy Volt or upwards from $66,000 for a Tesla Model S - have to grapple with big issues. Will the infrastructure to support such vehicles continue to build out? Will public sentiment turn against alternative fuel vehicles if that's the White House's signal?

Enter the uncertainty, where a lot of a car buyer's money is on the line.

A clear position Trump took, in a TV interview three years ago, was scathing commentary about the U.S. government's investment (approaching $200 million) in Fisker, a start-up electric car manufacturer that went bust. Trump said: "We are backing all this garbage, and they are all out of business." But that condemnation - on close listening - is hinged in a belief that the U.S. Department of Energy lacks the expertise to make shrewd investments in emerging technologies.

That's not the same as condemning the technologies. So what will Trump do regarding alternative fuel vehicles where the federal government currently has a huge role. Buyers of plug-in hybrids get a federal tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500 (the Chevy Volt qualifies for the big number), and that's thought to help stimulate at least some purchases.

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