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922TED2008: 1500 Movers/Shakers Hear about PHEV Campaign

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  • Felix Kramer
    Mar 3, 2008
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      CalCars just got the opportunity to evangelize the concept of
      electrification of transportation and offer a quick status report on
      PHEVs to a very influential audience. Here's a bit of background on
      the annual TED Conference in Monterey, followed by the story of the
      event and our talk and a general note about events.

      TED began in 1984, reflecting the "convergence" of three important
      streams of social, artistic and business activity:
      * TECHNOLOGY (the Macintosh had just launched; the laser printer was
      on its way)
      * ENTERTAINMENT (the digital world was incorporating audio, video and graphics)
      * DESIGN (graphic arts, architecture and product designs were evolving rapidly)

      Richard Saul Wurman, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Saul_Wurman
      , coiner of the term "information Architect" and creator of the
      popular "Access" guidebooks, founded the event to create a venue for
      him to hear his personal choice of thoughtful and creative people. In
      2001, Chris Anderson,
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Anderson_%28TED%29 , who had built
      a technology/business magazine empire and left it all to create the
      Sapling Foundation, bought TED and turned it into a non-profit. The
      TED Conference includes talks by about 50 "thinkers and doers" giving
      18-minute "talks of their lives" interspersed with provocative
      three-minute talks. Since 2001, it's expanded in many ways, including
      TEDGlobal (international locations), TED Prize (three per year since
      2005; past winners include Larry Brilliant and EO Wilson), and
      TEDTalks, sharing the best presentations online under a Creative
      Commons license. More at http://www.ted.com/index.php/pages/view/id/5

      CALCARS & TED:
      Last year, a CalCars supporter encouraged me to attend and footed the
      $5K registration fee. When I got there, given that GM had brought the
      Chevy Volt, I suggested to the organizers that I tell the audience
      about the exciting future that starts with PHEVs. They said I might
      become a last-minute addition to the program, but it didn't
      happen. The event's content and the people were so stimulating I
      decided to return. In the fall-winter 2007, my proposal for a
      three-minute talk was accepted after many discussions with Chris
      Anderson, self-titled "Archivist," and Tom Reilly, Partnership
      Director and the event's court jester. I got very helpful
      back-and-forth editorial input from Chris plus great messaging
      consulting from "User Experience Strategist" Nancy Frishberg
      http://www.linkedin.com/in/nfrishberg , boiling down the PHEV message
      to seven images (see below).

      My "leap-day" talk got a terrific reception from the approximately
      1,100 people in Monterey, plus 400 at the simulcast event in Aspen.
      Among those who heard the talk were representatives of GM, BMW, Shell
      and Lexus (all event sponsors and exhibitors); leaders from companies
      like IDEO and Autodesk with whom we've held events and hope to engage
      in future projects; people currently or formerly at Google, Microsoft
      and other high-tech and media companies, venture capitalists and
      corporations that are potential sponsors of CalCars. Al Gore (who
      premiered his solutions-oriented slide show, including many of
      zero-carbon technologies) heard it, as did individuals ranging from
      Project Better Place's Shai Agassi to ocean explorer Robert Ballard,
      actress Cameron Diaz, the Simpson's Matt Groening, genetics pioneer
      Craig Venter and mycologist Paul Stamets (both working on creating
      zero-carbon fuels from biological processes).

      Outside, while the conference's official ride-and-drive vehicles were
      hydrogen cars from GM and BMW and high-end Lexus hybrids, many of the
      attendees also stopped by to see our car and talk to CalCars Senior
      Advisor Randy Reisiniger. Also outside for some time were Ian
      Wright's electric race car and a vehicle fueled by algae biodiesel
      from startup Solazyme.

      In a few months, we hope the video of the talk will stream from
      http://www.ted.com . Meanwhile, the text is below; the slides are at
      http://www.calcars.org/calcars-ted2008.pdf -- and many of the
      improvements in this presentation have also migrated to the
      22-slide-presentation at http://www.calcars.org/calcars-photos.pdf


      1. PHOTO OF PLUG: You've probably heard some buzz about plug-in
      hybrids -- but you may ask, why are they so important? They're not
      just about switching from one flawed energy source to another.

      2. BETTER IN 3 WAYS: After a century, cars can finally get off fossil
      fuels. The big deal is that electricity has so much going for it:
      it's cleaner, cheaper, and domestic. And plug-in cars of al types get
      cleaner as they get older -- because the power grid is getting cleaner.

      3. 2 DIAGRAMS: We can have plug-in hybrids now with no new technology
      -- by extending today's popular hybrid design to its logical conclusion.
      The main difference is the bigger battery. Add some electronics. Then
      you ask, what about the fuel infrastructure? I brought it along. You
      get an extension cord! (SHOW YELLOW DONGLE)
      It's like adding a small second fuel tank you always use first. You
      fill it at night from an ordinary 120-volt socket, and the next day
      your local commute will be all-or-part electric. But if you want to
      go to the mountains, you've still got gas.

      4. MY 100+MPG CAR: CalCars' Open Source "hack" of the Prius by
      engineers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and drivers in 2004
      started to show what's possible.
      You're looking at my "car of the future, " which I've been driving
      for almost 2 years and 35,00 miles. You may have spotted it parked
      near here, and I'll have it near the beach tomorrow.

      5. QUOTE: A dozen carmakers now agree plugging in cars is a good
      idea. But for them it's still business as usual. They're taking their
      time. So a broad campaign, memorably described by James Woolsey, is
      working to make it easier for them to evolve quickly.

      6. VERSIONING: The planet can't wait for perfection...we need version
      1 of all kinds of green products as soon as they're "good enough" to
      be used safely and with measurable benefits.
      We expect to succeed in this campaign to commercializing plug-in hybrids.
      And this may be the first time a high-ticket consumer product will be
      mass-produced and come to market by popular demand. Soon after, we'll
      have many all-electric vehicles.

      7. PHEV & VOLT: At the LA auto show we converted a car; here it is in
      front of a building billboard for GM's concept Volt.
      People tell me CalCars gives them hope that ordinary people can create change.
      And surely extraordinary people -- like each of you -- can do a lot
      to make cars -- and then many other things -- cleaner and cheaper.

      I had the chance to talk with many people from GM, continuing to
      encourage them to "version" their car with an earlier preliminary
      rollout in California and elsewhere. And following me on stage was
      Larry Burns, VP of GM R&D and Planning, showing the "Boss," a
      self-driving Chevy Tahoe developed with Carnegie-Mellon University
      that won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. Burns used this car's
      advanced navigation capabilities to connect safety issues and the
      electrification of technology. He concluded,
      "What Boss really represents is an example of the new DNA for
      automobiles. This new DNA will transition from mechanically driven
      cars to electric. It will transition from internal combustion engines
      to electric motors, from petroleum to electricity and hydrogen, from
      mechanical and hydraulic controls to electrical and digital controls
      and from cars that today operate independently to cars that are
      connected to everything around them. GM and other auto companies are
      working very hard on this new DNA for the automobile, and we believe
      it holds the key to bringing sustainable mobility to many more than
      the 13% today that have a car."

      See http://www.calcars.org/events.html for many upcoming programs,
      including an all-star conference in Berkeley this Friday. If you want
      a PHEV at an Earth Day event, we urge you to contact the owners of
      the cars listed at http://www.calcars.org/where-phevs-are.html as
      soon as possible. For Bay Area vehicles and talks by CalCars, write
      to events@... .

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
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