If your business is batteries, life can be like one long recharge cycle: One minute you’re dead, and the next full of juice — shaking hands with an official of the Obama administration, who’s handing you a big check.

That was the scene yesterday, as Obamistas — including the president himself, Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson headed out into our big, wide, wonderful country to award these same battery companies with $2.4 billion in DOE stimulus funds. Detroit companies, the Big Three and established battery makers (including Johnson Controls, A123 and EnerDel) were among the biggest winners, but one program stands out as the highest profile — and probably the coolest, too.

Those batteries are made "right here in the U.S.A," Obama said repeatedly. It's on the videotape:

ECOtality (through its subsidiary, eTec) is partnering with Nissan (maker of the all-electric Leaf, due in late 2010) to provide 12,500 chargers and 5,000 EVs to five regions of the country, including Seattle, Phoenix/Tucson, Tennessee, Oregon and San Diego. That may not sound huge, but it’s without a doubt the single biggest EV deployment in history.

It will take more than DOE awards to get EVs off the ground. American business has to buy in, and it is beginning to do that. It’s dawning on big-box stores, fast-food joints and mall developers that if EV owners are charging in the parking lot, they’re probably also spending more time shopping. The average customer spends 50 minutes in a mall, and the owners of these shopping meccas would love to make that 60 minutes. If an average visit to a Burger King is 25 minutes, and fast charging takes 26, guess who just ordered dessert?

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