Could Colorado be the engine that drives the electric-car revolution?

Ever since I gave up on my dream of a flying car, I've been waiting for the next best thing: an electric one. Sure, it lacks the sexiness of a my Jetsons-fueled childhood fantasy. But on the other hand, I don't have to learn to fly and my kids may actually inherit a planet that's livable -- so it's a trade off I can live with. Now, given the push to alternative energy by the Obama administration and the stimulus funds behind it, that dream inches ever closer to reality, right here in my own backyard.

Frederick-based UQM Technologies, a manufacturer of electric motors and components for electric vehicles since the late '70s, just got a plum $45.1 million grant as part of Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to "accelerate the manufacturing and deployment of electric vehicles, batteries and components in America," the company reported in a news release yesterday. And that money has already helped -- the Denver Business Journal reported that the company's stock closed 31 percent higher yesterday, at $5.12 a share -- a price close to its high for the past year.

The company certainly has the experience to position itself well in the electric-car development process. Since stating off with the Electrek in 1978, they've provided motors and components for everything from an electric vehicle used to cover the 1984 Olympic marathon and the first electric-hybrid bus to carry paying passengers in the U.S. to an electric version of the Army's workhorse Humvee.

CEO William Rankin told the DBJ that the company will use the funds to ramp up production of its electric motors and said in the grant proposal that the company hopes to grow from its current size of sixty employees to employ thousands, and fulfill hundreds of thousands of orders. If that happens, Colorado could become the epicenter of a new automotive economy -- kind of like a 21st century Detroit, but cleaner and with mountains instead of the Great Lakes, as well as a football team that doesn't suck.

Okay, we'll have to wait and see on that last one...

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