Calling the U.S. federal government's expenditures under the end of President Bush's tenure and the beginning of President Obama's a 'spending spree' is to beggar the term understatement. But in many instances, there hasn't been a valid alternative aside from letting parts of the economy wither and die. The latest round of funding - $2.4 billion for electric vehicles - announced yesterday promises to help the U.S. reach Obama's goal of 1 million plug-in electrics on the road by 2015.

Electric vehicles have been around as long as the automobile, but due to the abundance of cheap and readily available petroleum-based fuels, they have never caught on for public use. Some corporations, such as energy giant Southern California Edison, have invested in the technology as a way to research and benefit from the technology in their fleet vehicles. But how well that will translate to trips to the local market or to the next state to visit family is still not clear.

Nevertheless, the President is forging ahead with the subsidy of the electric vehicle industry, focusing in large part on the nuts-and-bolts suppliers of things like battery technology and drivetrain components. Far from a bid at government-run laboratories, the funding is pitched as an incentive for entrepreneurial innovation.

"Show us that your idea or your company is best-suited to meet America's challenges, and we will give you a chance to prove it," said the President in a speech to the electric vehicle industry. "Every company that wants a shot at these tax dollars has to prove their worth."

Many in the industry are nevertheless concerned about the capacity to produce and deliver such high-tech parts for a reasonable, market-sustained price. Battery packs, charging systems and the infrastructure necessary to support them are all expensive, and even the $2.4 billion announced this week may not be enough.