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Media: Time/Bill McKibben/Edwin Black/Chris Paine/Barack Obama/Van Jones+eBay Auction

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  • Felix Kramer
    Following up on yesterday s auto industry and plug-in roundups, here s a week s accumulation of media reports on plug-in cars. ... * TIME Magazine s Top 50
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2008
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      Following up on yesterday's auto industry and
      plug-in roundups, here's a week's accumulation of
      media reports on plug-in cars.

      * TIME Magazine's Top 50 Inventions of '08 includes plug-ins
      * Bill McKibben reviews Thomas Friedman's book and seconds importance of PHEVs
      * Edwin Black's new hard-hitting book, "The Plan"
      * Senator Obama talks about PHEVs and the Smart Grid
      * First PHEV Prius auction on eBay
      * LA Times on impact of plug-in tax credit
      * Revenge of the Electric Car: Sequel to Who KilledÂ…
      * Photos and video from Plug In America event
      * The Green Collar Economy:" hit new book on cleantech and jobs
      * US News on next-generation prius -- and wished-for plug

      PLUG-INS: The magazine's list of the Best
      Inventions of the Year
      includes: 2. Tesla 7.Chevy Volt ("the best of
      both worlds") 46. Aptera -- and many other
      clean-tech companies and solutions are also included.

      highly-regarded New York Review of Books,
      McKibben reviews Thomas Friedman's new book,
      "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green
      Revolution--and How It Can Renew America"
      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22027. His
      worth-reading essay, called "Green Fantasies,"
      appreciates the book and its potential impact
      while criticizing the timing of Friedman's
      recognition of climate change issues and their
      solutions. McKibben's supportive comments about
      PHEVs we believe stem in part from our long
      efforts to get plug-in cars to the attention of
      leading global warming experts. Here's how
      McKibben puts it: Among [Friedman's] specific recommendations:

      * The replacement of liquid fuels and coal
      ("fuels from hell") with renewable sources like
      wind and sun ("fuels from heaven"). He
      understands that the key here is electrifying the
      economy--indeed this section of the book reads
      like a gloss on Al Gore's highly important early
      summer speech when he called for the conversion
      of our economic base to renewable electricity
      inside of a decade. Crucially, Friedman
      understands that while some "eureka
      breakthroughs" would be nice, most of the
      technologies we need are already "hiding in plain
      sight" and could rapidly drive down costs if they were put into commercial use.
      *The fast conversion of the car industry to
      hybrid electric vehicles that will plug in to
      numerous outlets, PHEVs, which are scheduled to
      go on sale with the advent of the Chevy Volt in
      model year 2010 (i.e., in the fall of 2009), are
      indeed a big deal, as Friedman insists. Unlike
      today's hybrids, which use a relatively small gas
      motor with electric power as a supplement, the
      plug-ins will run primarily on electricity, with
      the gas kicking in only if you drive more than,
      say, forty miles. For most trips, that is,
      they'll use electrons, not gallons. That means
      that we'll need to convert the underlying
      electric grid--which now depends on fossil fuels
      to run turbines--to clean sources, which will be
      hard, but not as hard as figuring out some other
      low-carbon replacement for liquid fuels. And in
      fact, plug-in hybrids should help with the
      inherent problem in using sun and wind, which is
      their intermittency. Friedman quotes Felix
      Kramer, the California innovator who has done the
      most to promote the new vehicles: their
      widespread adoption, he says, will give
      "utilities what they have never had--the
      potential for distributed energy storage, using all of our car batteries."

      STOPS -- OR THE DAY BEFORE" is a slim new book by
      Edwin Black, the independent journalist best
      known for "IBM and the Holocaust" (2002). He also
      wrote "Internal Combustion: How Corporations and
      Governments Addicted the World to Oil and
      Derailed the Alternatives" (2006). The Plan
      focuses more on solutions, including conversions
      of internal combustion engine vehicles to
      multiple fuels ranging from CNG to hydrogen, with
      long sections on electric vehicles and PHEVs.
      You'll learn lots about the oil industry's
      history, read little-know but thought-provoking
      information such as the fact that Canada both imports and exports oil.

      In person, he urges readers not to skip though
      the book but to read it in its entirety -- and at
      130 pages that's not unreasonable. Black presents
      a broad pro-active plan for how society can
      prepare for oil disruptions, or, if it doesn't,
      steps it might take on an emergency basis if the
      supply chain is disrupted or prices soar. And
      while we disagree with some of his specifics, we
      appreciate his audacity in offering answers to
      questions few dare to ask. We also appreciate his
      extended focus on what he calls "upfitting." He
      sees broad opportunities for a large industrial
      effort to convert or retrofit tens of millions of
      existing vehicles away from petroleum dependency.

      You can order the book from the link at
      http://www.calcars.org/books.html . The book's
      website is http://www.planforoilcrisis.com and at
      The Cutting Edge
      http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com you can read
      very strong opinions by Black and guest columnists.

      part of an interview Oct 30 with MSNBC's Rachel
      Maddow, Sen. Obama demonstrated his awareness of
      opportunities and benefits of the Smart Grid,
      PHEVs and Vehicle-To-Grid. You'll find it 8
      minutes into a 12-minute video streaming at
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#27464494 .
      You can't fast-forward the video stream; here's the transcript:

      "One of the most important infrastructure
      projects that we need is a whole new electricity
      grid. Because if we're going to be serious about
      renewable energy, I want to be able to get wind
      power from North Dakota to population centers
      like Chicago. And we're going to have to have a
      smart grid if we want to use plug-in hybrids.
      Then we want to be able to have ordinary
      consumers sell back the electricity that's
      generated from those car batteries, back into the
      grid. That can create five million new jobs -- just in new energy."

      The Green Car Company in Seattle will auction its
      first 2009-model converted Plug-in Prius on eBay,
      donating its profits to Plug In America. The
      brand-new fully-loaded "Package 6" (dark
      blue/leather seats/navigation system) vehicle
      will be on view Seattle Auto Show until November
      9, when the auction closes. The conversion
      includes the crash-tested A123Systems battery
      pack. GCC will donate proceeds over its costs to
      Plug In America. Since there's currently a long
      wait list for Hymotion conversions, this is an
      opportunity for some eager Pacific Northwesterner
      -- or someone from anywhere else who can't wait
      -- to jump to the head of the line. We estimate
      the cost of the car plus conversion at over
      $39,000. At eBay, Toyota RAV4 EVs have often gone
      for tens of thousands of dollars more than the
      original cost of the vehicle, even when the money
      didn't go to a good cause. We'll see what the
      results are in the next 10 days. Place your bid
      http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140278839843 .

      PIA says it "plans to use the proceeds from this
      auction to target the new U.S. President's 'first
      100 days' to ensure that electric vehicles are
      included in any new stimulus package or
      automotive bail-out package. Since both major
      candidates agree on the importance of energy
      independence and renewables, we are certain to
      see a 'green' stimulus package addressing
      clean-tech infrastructure projects and jobs
      involving renewable energy. We need to make sure
      that electric vehicle incentives and
      infrastructure projects end up front and center!
      We need to make sure that any bail-out monies to
      the auto industry include requirements for them
      to make more electric vehicles and accelerate any
      current plans to put EVs on the road!

      Automotive journalist Martin Zimmerman in
      "Plug-in electric vehicles get boost from bailout
      says "The deduction may help defuse potential sticker shock for buyers."

      Pointing out how tax credits (unlike deductions)
      are a dollar-for-dollar discount, he e quotes GM
      spokesman Dave Barthmuss: "These kinds of tax
      credits will make it more attractive to an early
      adopter to put one of these vehicles in their
      garage." Confirming what we've been saying,
      Zimmerman cites Genevieve Cullen, vice president
      of Electric Drive Transportation Association
      saying: Only new vehicles are eligible, so
      existing gas-electric hybrids that have been
      converted to plug-in operation won't qualify for the credit.

      "REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR" is the title of
      filmmaker Chris Paine's progress on a successor
      to "Who Killed the Electric Car. See Edmunds'
      report at."
      . PHEVs showed up at the tail end of the first
      movie, and will be a part of the story of what
      happened since. See the movie's website at
      http://revengeoftheelectriccar.com/. The
      increasingly active blog's most recent posting is
      by Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott "Smart
      Garage - Connecting the Future," saying "I can't
      imagine a better ally for the EV movement than a
      full court press by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute."

      social event of the year was at Chris Paine's
      house last month. PIA's Stefano Paris captured it
      all in still photos (with captions), including
      many of the Chevy Volt -- I and PIA's Linda
      Nicholes are the only people shown sitting in the
      car. Plus a video of the speeches by Paine, PIA
      leaders, Dan Neil and James Woolsey. See it all
      at http://www.stefanoparis.com/redirect/PIAfundraiserParty.html .

      QUOTABLE DAN NEIL: If you want to choose which
      speeches to watch, go from that page to
      and click on a person's name. When you do that
      for Pulitzer Prize winning LA Times reporter Dan
      Neil, after a few PG-rated introductory remarks,
      you'll hear,"What persuaded General Motors to
      bring us the Volt and other car manufacturers to
      pursue PHEV technology is that it is an
      undeniable, irresistible, irrefutable
      technological solution to the transportation
      problems we have right now and you cannot avoid
      it. Anybody who's got a brain is going to sign up
      for this sooner or later. General Motors has got
      a brain and they're signed up for it."

      FIX OUR TWO BIGGEST PROBLEMS:" This new book by
      Van Jones, is making its way up the best-seller
      lists. It doesn't focus on plug-in cars, but on
      the broader green economy. Van Jones' efforts at
      the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign are based at the
      Ella Baker Center in Oakland, CA
      You can keep track of news stories about green
      collar jobs at http://www.greencollarblog.org/ .

      next evolution of Toyota's popular hybrid"
      , the magazine describes the vehicle as having
      greater challenges than in the past to keep up
      with competitors and raises doubts about how
      whether it can get to 94MPG with standard hybrid
      technology. The article handily summarizes other
      reports, and with what we "objectively" see as
      wistful hopes, but based on no infromation, "it may also be a plug-in hybrid."

      The Toyota Prius has become the symbol of the
      environmental movement going mainstream. But by
      the time the 2010 cars are reaching showrooms,
      the Prius we know today may look antiquated and
      even inefficient. Other manufacturers are hard
      at work trying to catch Toyota's green machine,
      with pure electric cars and higher mileage
      hybrids on the way. Toyota's next Prius, due to
      reach dealers for the 2010 model year, needs to be a much more efficient car.

      At this point, we have more rumors and
      speculation than facts. But we know enough to
      paint a picture of what's next for the Prius
      faithful -- and it looks like they have a lot to
      look forward to. The 2010 Prius will be larger
      than the outgoing model, will accelerate faster
      and probably have more interior space. Perhaps
      more importantly, it will be more fuel-efficient:
      published reports say it may even reach 94 mpg,
      though we're skeptical that those numbers are
      possible with the technology that current reports say the car will use.

      The 2010 Toyota Prius will feature a larger body
      than the outgoing model, a larger gasoline engine
      and a more powerful set of electric motors. It
      may even feature roof-mounted solar panels,
      though those are expected to power only interior
      accesories. Leaked photos show a body that
      doesn't depart radically from the shape that has
      become a cultural icon, but does update it with
      new styling cues -- and may even lose the
      horizontal bar across the rear window that has
      caused visibility problems for so many Prius
      owners. It will feature lithium-ion batteries,
      said to hold more power and charge faster than
      the current car's Nickel-Metal Hydride cells. It
      also may be a plug-in hybrid, able to recharge
      its batteries from a standard household outlet.

      It will also, for the first time, be built in the
      U.S. -- which might give American dealers more
      Priuses to sell. Limited supplies of the
      existing cars have kept prices artificially high
      throughout 2008. The car will make its first
      official appearance at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show
      in January. We'll have more specifics to report then.

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