The White House plans to promote its work to develop electric cars this week, dispatching administration officials across the nation to discuss advanced batteries and new vehicles powered by electricity.

Electric Ford Focus

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President Barack Obama will travel to Holland, Mich., on Thursday for the groundbreaking of a Compact Power Inc. factory, which received $151 million from a federal stimulus program to open the $303 million plant. The factory is expected to manufacture lithium ion cells and employ about 450 people by 2013.

WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert will be in Holland for the presidential visit.  Top executives of the Detroit based automakers are also expected to be on hand for the visit.    

Pushing clean energy, Obama has vowed to bring 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles to U.S. highways by 2015 and his administration has set aside billions of stimulus dollars to bolster U.S. battery manufacturers. The funding is aimed at creating a battery industry in the U.S. that can compete with Asian manufacturers and help the U.S. reduce its dependence on imported oil.

Ford on Tuesday announced that it’s selected Compact Power to supply the batteries for the upcoming electric version of the Ford Focus.  General Motors on Wednesday plans to update reporters on its progress in developing the extended range Chevy Volt electric vehicle. 

The administration will hold several events this week to emphasize new high-tech jobs spurred by electric vehicles, said a White House official. The official was not authorized to speak publicly before an official announcement.  

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will hold an event in New York with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday to promote charging stations for electric cars. On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will discuss propane vehicles in Richmond, Va., and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will visit a battery plant in Charlotte, N.C.  

On Friday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu will visit Delphi Automotive Systems in Kokomo, Ind. The company received an $89 million battery manufacturing grant to develop electronic components for vehicles.  

Other events are planned this week in Vermont, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  

The Obama administration has provided $2.4 billion in federal grants to develop next-generation electric vehicles and batteries. The government has estimated the stimulus funds could spur the production of 500,000 advanced batteries a year by late 2014.  

A report to be released Thursday by the Energy Department will estimate that stimulus funding could bring down battery costs from $33,000 for a battery with a 100-mile range to $16,000 by the end of 2013 and $10,000 by the end of 2015. More than 20,000 electric vehicle charging stations will be available by 2012, compared with less than 500 before the stimulus program began, the report will say.
  
  
   (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert contributed to this story.