President Obama visits Freightliner plant

Speaks about alternative fuel, rising gas prices

by Alan Hodge

President Barack Obama visited the Mount Holly Freightliner plant to speak about alternative fuel uses. (Bill Ward/MIM photo)

President Barack Obama shone the national spotlight on Mount Holly when he stopped in town to speak about rising gas prices and alternative fuel incentives last month.

Obama toured the Freightliner long-distance truck manufacturing facility at 1800 N. Main St., spoke with workers and observed several of the alternative energy truck models produced at the plant on March 7. The 1,000th natural gas powered truck rolled off of the Mount Holly assembly line last November.

Obama announced several incentives for vehicles powered by electricity or natural gas in a speech after the tour. One proposal would increase the tax credit for customers buying vehicles that use alternative fuels from $7,500 to as much as $10,000. The credit would be available when the vehicle is bought, rather than at tax filing time.

Brice Gandy, vice president of Victory Chevrolet in Mount Holly, said he thought the extra tax credit is a good idea.

“It will help sales tremendously,” Gandy said. “I thought the $7,000 incentive was a good idea, but making it $10,000 will really sweeten the pot.”

Obama also discussed a $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge that would be given to 10 or 15 communities that invest in the infrastructure and regulatory changes to support advanced, alternative-fuel vehicles. He wants all federal government vehicles to run on alternative fuels by 2015.

Mount Holly City Manager Danny Jackson thinks alternative fuel vehicles could become part of the town’s future as well.

“We’ve been talking about getting hybrid vehicles,” Jackson said. “They would be utility-type vehicles, such as pickup trucks, and we would be interested in getting money to help buy them. Finding an alternative to oil that works is the way to go.”

David Isenhour, Belmont public works director, said his town government could also use alternative fuel vehicles. Belmont acquired a couple of police cars equipped with natural gas auxiliary tanks several years ago. When the cars were later phased out, the city kept the natural gas fueling apparatus with the idea of possibly using it again in the future.

“I would like to go green again with hybrid vehicles, if the budget allows it,” Isenhour said. “Anything we can do to take off the burden of oil-based fuels is good.”

Obama also addressed the rising cost of gasoline.

“This is not the first time we’ve seen gas prices spike,” Obama said. “There are no quick fixes for this problem. We’re not going to be able to drill our way out of high gas prices.”

Kenny Rollins, who works at his family’s gas station near Mount Holly, said he has observed gas prices fluctuate many times during the last several decades.

“It’s the oil speculators that have a lot to do with gas prices,” Rollins said. “There’s not much Obama can do directly to bring prices down.”

Did you like this? Share it:

Leave a Reply