We long ago gave up making sure everything about
plug-in hybrids and related issues showed up at
CalCars-News, since people have so many other
ways to get information -- and of course we have
our hands full on advocacy and on driving our new
plug-in cars. So here's a roundup of recent news
items we've found most interesting -- we bet all
of our readers have missed at least one or two!
To make it easier to scan, we've divided the 17
topics and 32 links into categories: Auto
Industry, Policy & Market Penetration, Energy Policy & Fossil Fuels, Media.
(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting
will also be viewable at
you can add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)
CHEVROLET VOLT DEBATES LEAVE OUT THAT WHOLE
"VISION THING": That's the opinion of former USA
Today Detroit Bureau Chief David Kiley, writing
at AutoblogGreen on the importance of the Chevy
Volt for GM and the auto industry.
. His piece reminds us of comments we've heard
frequently: back in 2008, if GM had not been able
to point to the Volt as its future, its chances
of receiving public investments to stay alive
would have been near-zero. Mark Reuss, GM's
President of North America, said as much in an
that's summarized and pointed to (along with
logos for all the Volt's awards) at
. And as GM accelerates volume production plans,
the Volt will be for sale in all 50 states by year-end.
BYD'S LOW-PRICED PHEV HEADING TOWARD THE U.S.
PlugInCars.com publisher/editor Brad Berman
offers the first on-the-road review of the F3DM
from China at
and links to his articles in the Sunday New York Times. Feb. 18, 2011.
GM'S PROGRESS: After announcing on January 26
that it wouldn't tap $14B from the US Treasury
under the 2007 Advanced Technology Vehicles
Manufacturing Loan Program (a $25B fund from
which Ford, Nissan, Tesla and Fisker have
borrowed), GM announced on February 23 a
profitable year for the first time since 2004.
Its $4.7B net was the highest since 1999. Of
course, this came after the company assigned
pension obligations, laid off many workers and
closed many dealerships as part of its bankruptcy
and restructuring. GM gave its remaining hourly
workers bonuses averaging $4,300. The company is
still 1/3 owned by the U.S. Government, and the
stock will have to appreciate significantly for the U.S. to break even.
AUTOMAKERS APPROACHING 4-WHEEL DRIVE PHEVS:
People we meet who live in or travel frequently
to cold climates or mountains often say they
won't buy another car until it has a plug -- but
it has to be usable in deep snow. Progress is
encouraging even though we don't yet see
commitments for sales in North America:
* Land Rover (now owned by Tata Motors of India)
has announced the Range_e, a diesel-electric
plug-in hybrid version of its Range Rover Sport.
* Volvo (now owned by Geely of China) will unveil
at the Geneva Auto Show in March the
Diesel-Electric V60 wagon PHEV for sale in Europe in 2012.
* Ford, GM, Toyota, and Subaru have announced
plans for plug-in SUVs or crossover vehicles, but none are described as 4WD.
BILL FORD BULLISH ON PLUG-IN CARS: Ford's
Executive Chairman at the Detroit Auto Show: "We
don't know [about market acceptance], but one
thing we do know is the technology is ready for
prime time. These vehicles are fun to drive--you
don't have to give up anything to drive them.
That was always the tradeoff with prior green
.So now finally we have the technology to
deliver everything to customers and with things
like plugins you don't have the range anxiety so
that does kind of relieve most of the tradeoffs,
. ultimately, our country has to decide
is this where we really want to go
RAPID ELECTRIC VEHICLES DELIVERS CONVERTED
GAS-GUZZLER TO ARMY: Vancouver-based REV (a
conversion company we highlight at
delivered the first of four Ford vehicles --
three Escape SUVs and one F-150 pickup truck --
to the U.S. military's leading advanced vehicle
center, US Army Tank Automotive Research Center
(TARDEC). The attraction of the vehicles goes
beyond electrification to their use as Ancillary
Power Vehicles with two-way charging
Dec. 13, 2010 And while we're on the subject of
conversions, wheel motors continue to develop --
once they're in mass-production and affordable,
they will make conversion of smaller vehicles
more practical. http://evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=25224
Feb. 15, 2011
POLICY & MARKET PENETRATION
PROVOCATIVE PREDICTION: "The Future of Clean
Energy Rests on Consumers and Electric Vehicles:"
David Crane, CEO of Fortune 250 power company NRG
Energy says, "if one of the new electric cars is
just a little bit successful and starts selling
hundreds of thousands of units a year, that would
blow all other greentech product sales out of the
Feb. 23, 2011
ADMINISTRATION EXPANDS SUPPORT FOR PLUG-INS: Vice
Pres. Biden followed Pres. Obama's State of the
Union address on Jan. 26 with steps to get a
million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015. DC
proposes transforming the existing $7,500 tax
credit into an automatic rebate at the time of
purchase, ensuring that all buyers are eligible.
The 200,000 vehicles/manufacturer credit ceiling
could rise to 500,000.
. A Feb. 8 Energy
Department analyses showed no production
bottlenecks to reach a million.
. Its table may already be out of date, since it
doesn't include Toyota, Honda and BYD, and may
have understated Nissan's initial volumes.
(State-by-state models from The Center for
Automotive Research and Pike Research project
only about half a million plug-ins sold by 2015.)
On Feb. 14, the proposed budget also includes an
88% increase in R&D for vehicle technologies,
increases in ARPA-E and Energy Innovation Hub
programs for batteries and transportation, and a
$200M program to spur concentrated development of
plug-in cars in 30 communities -- a version of
what the Electrification Coalition has proposed.
Feb. 14, 2011
INTERVIEW WITH VOLT'S MARKETING MANAGER: "Ears
Wide Open, Chevy Volt Marketing Manager Collects
Driver Feedback " How John Hughes and the company
are tracking responses by drivers to the Volt.
(We think they have even great opportunities to
track, analyze and benefit even more from
drivers' views and experiences.) Feb. 3, 2011
PROFILE OF NORTH BAY NISSAN'S GREG DEXTER, TOP
LEAF DEALER: His story shows the impact of the
grass-roots support for EVs and PHEVs on one
dealer's vision and strategy to gain the
confidence and the orders of plug-in car buyers.
Jan. 28, 2011
ENERGY POLICIES & FOSSIL FUELS
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, ON GAS TAX, CHEERS ON THE VOLT:
In "If Not Now, When?," the New York Times
columnist and author, says, "With one little
gasoline tax, we can make ourselves more
economically and strategically secure, help sell
more Chevy Volts and free ourselves to openly
push for democratic values in the Middle East
without worrying anymore that it will harm our
Feb. 23, 2011 In "The Big Leak," back in December
he addressed the same idea:
. And a related opinion piece by "Beyond Oil"
conference organizer Steve Marshall and Plug In
America chair Dan Davids, "Don't tax electric
cars; stabilize tax revenues instead"
Feb. 13, 2011
OIL: International organizations and oil
companies are acknowledging that conventional
sources of oil are becoming depleted faster than
easily accessible sources are found. Now
"fracking," the controversial drilling technique
that's been hailed as a miracle technology for
natural gas, is now being extended to crude oil
Feb 10, 2011 The arguments against "drill
everywhere" forces can't rely on expectations of
"peak oil" but have to focus on the
unacknowledged external costs fossil fuels impose
on all of society. And arguments for increasing
domestic supply many years from now are not very
convincing as the world continues to be held
hostage to a globally priced fuel much of which
comes from unstable petrodictatorships.
COAL: A new study of economic, health and
environmental costs that are not included in the
"cheap" price of coal could total 17.8 cents/kWh
of electricity generated.
Feb. 16, 2011.
NATURAL GAS: The Environmental Protection Agency
reconsiders assumptions that replacing gasoline
with NG lowers greenhouse gases by 30-40%. Taking
into account the full life-cycle of gas
production, especially methane emissions in
production and distribution, brings down the
Jan. 25, 2011.
"WORLD ON THE EDGE," LESTER BROWN'S NEW BOOK:
We've been a fan of Brown for years (and he of
"Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization"
volumes, versions 1-4, have now been succeeded by
"World on the Edge, How to Prevent Environmental
and Economic Collapse." This up-to-date and very
readable book describes the intersecting problems
of food and water supplies, climate and climate
refugees, and fossil fuel dependence that lead to
global security issues. And it presents the
solutions, notably including plug-in hybrids and
renewable energy. See more about him and a link
to his recent Washington Post story at
. Order the book at Earth Policy Institute
or at http://www.calcars.org/books.html
BUY "CHARGED UP & READY TO ROLL: THE DEFINITIVE
GUIDE TO PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES": The
completely-revised 2011 edition of Plug In
America's consumer resource guide. It's really
"Everything You Want Everyone to Know" about
Plug-Ins." It belongs in every auto dealership,
every legislative office, and on every driver's
bookshelf. Its 64 pages and 20 articles are
comprehensive and comprehensible. See which six
automakers have full-page ads, which two have
half-pagers, and which didn't show up. And it
even has a chapter, "Converting a Gas Guzzler,"
co-authored by Shannon Arvizu ("Miss Electric")
and Felix Kramer. You get a digital copy
automatically if you join
. And you can order
as many print copies ($5+$3 shipping) at
BIG CHANGES AT GM-VOLT.COM: After four successful
years, Lyle Dennis, publisher and editor of the
highly successful GM-Volt, announced at "GM-Volt:
a Turn in the Road"
his return to his full-time neurologist job and
his family life. He sold the site to
VerticalScope, a company with online forums
including Autoguide. New management's first
posting was at
. One of the most entertaining posts before the
transfer came from Volt Vehicle Line Director
Tony Posawatz: "Lighting the Way and Passing the
. Posawatz commemorates his fifth anniversary as
GM Employee #1 on the Volt project. (gm-volt's
partner site, http://www.nissan-leaf.net
not attracted a large user base compared to http://www.mynissanleaf.com
ELECTRIC CARS GET CHARGED FOR BATTLE is a long
Business Week cover story on the Chevy Volt and
the Nissan Leaf.
Dec. 29, 2010
GENE AND THE MACHINE: THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT
THE ELECTRIC VOLT: We heard from many readers who
couldn't stop laughing about this Washington Post
Sunday Magazine cover story by resident humorist
Gene Weingarten. He describes his expectations
and discoveries as he drives the Chevy Volt.
(Only Dan Neil's reviews in the Wall Street
Journal of the Volt and the Leaf entertained
Jan. 30 2011
VOLUNTEER WANTED: We're looking for an experienced social networker, ideally but not necessarily in the SF Bay Area, who can help us promote and auction Felix's once-unique now historic (see http://www.calcars.org/photos.html
and pages linked from there) white 2004 Prius converted to a PHEV. It now has a nearly-new Hymotion A123Systems battery pack and we're hoping a buyer will keep its signs! Please write to jobs at calcars.org
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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