It's well known that the biggest bump in the road to developing an awesome all-electric car is the battery. The only ones juicy enough are a) big b) expensive and c) not so durable. Not easy. But science is no match for the American spirit! If elected, John McCain is promising $300 million to whoever develops a next-gen battery that "has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars." Totally coincidentally, that same battery will also power the next generation of life-extending cybernetic cryo-suits. [Detroit News via Jalopnik]
I'm with the "they'll already have enough of a reward" group. Clearly this isn't going to be handed out as soon as the first person who comes up with the right theory, or even creates a one-off prototype. It would need to be proven on an industrial scale to qualify for the relatively simple set of objectives he set out. And by that point, every automaker and consumer electronics company is going to beating a trail you could see from space to the door of whomever has that. At which point, while $300 million is certainly a nice prize, it would pale in comparison to the total market for such a device. As publicity stunts go, McCain could have chosen worse (prizes for kicking the most puppies, or new technologies to clear-cut forests), but it is a publicity stunt none the less. Never mind Congress' notorious reluctance to award large prizes. They'll barely even fund NASA's, many of which are a fraction of the cost.