While speaking to an audience at the Daimler Truck factory in Mt. Holly, N.C., President Obama launched EV-Everywhere, the second in a series of Energy Department “Clean Energy Grand Challenges” aimed at addressing ongoing energy challenges. The EV-Everywhere Challenge will foster a collaborative effort between America’s scientists, engineers and businesses to make electric vehicles (EVs) more affordable and convenient to own and drive than today’s gasoline-powered vehicles.

The White House said the announcement is part of Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to counteract high gas prices over the long term by offering consumers cost-effective alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles and helping to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil within the next 10 years.

“The Energy Department’s Clean Energy Grand Challenges will engage America’s scientists, engineers and young people to solve some of the nation’s biggest energy challenges and make clean-energy technologies affordable and accessible to the vast majority of American families and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The EV-Everywhere Challenge is focused on advancing electric vehicle technologies and continuing to reduce costs, so that a decade from now, electric vehicles will be more affordable and convenient to own than today’s gasoline-powered vehicles.”

Of course, the feasibility of EVs still hinges on an electrical grid to support them.

This challenge focuses on the affordability of EVs in particular, as the upfront costs for them are still out-of-reach for the majority of American families. The initiative seeks to make the vehicles affordable through technological innovation and development and cost improvement in batteries, electric motors, power electronics, lightweight structures and fast charging technology. That last item should spark the interest of the electrical industry, which has been working to develop EV charging stations. The rising demand of EVs, which this initiative will foster, will create a demand for EV charging installations.

As part of this process and to inspire and recruit the best and brightest American scientists, engineers and businesses to tackle this EV grand challenge, Chu and the Department of Energy (DOE) will organize a series of EV-Everywhere Challenge workshops across the country over the next few months.

The EV-Everywhere Challenge follows the model of the DOE’s $1 per watt SunShot Challenge, which seeks to make solar power directly cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels by the end of the decade. Over the next few months, the DOE will announce a series of additional grand challenges, each focused on pursuing technical innovations and reductions in cost to enable clean-energy technologies to compete directly, without subsidies, with the energy technologies that are currently widely used. For more information, visit http://science.energy.gov/bes/efrc/research/grand-challenges.