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Giant PHEV & EV News Roundup

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  • Felix Kramer
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2011
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      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
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html -- there
      you can add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

      AUTO INDUSTRY

      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.
      http://green.autoblog.com/2010/12/18/opinion-chevrolet-volt-debates-leave-out-that-whole-vision-thi/
      . 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
      interview
      http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/19/in-deep-with-gms-mark-reuss-at-naias/
      that's summarized and pointed to (along with
      logos for all the Volt's awards) at
      http://gm-volt.com/2011/01/20/gm-north-american-president-on-the-importance-of-the-chevy-volt/
      . 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
      http://www.plugincars.com/first-drive-byd-f3dm-chinese-plug-hybrid-106831.html
      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
      efforts….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,
      certainly…. ultimately, our country has to decide
      is this where we really want to go…."
      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/02/expert-panel-report-finds-achieving-1m-plug-in-vehicles-in-us-by-2015-would-require-concentrated-act.html

      RAPID ELECTRIC VEHICLES DELIVERS CONVERTED
      GAS-GUZZLER TO ARMY: Vancouver-based REV (a
      conversion company we highlight at
      http://www.calcars.org/ice-conversions.html ) has
      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
      capabilities.
      http://i.green.autoblog.com/2010/12/13/rapid-electric-vehicles-delivers-first-of-four-battery-powered-a/
      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
      water."
      http://gigaom.com/cleantech/the-future-of-clean-energy-rests-on-consumers-electric-vehicles/
      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.
      http://www.energy.gov/10034.htm . A Feb. 8 Energy
      Department analyses showed no production
      bottlenecks to reach a million.
      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/02/doe-20110208.html
      . 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.
      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/02/budget-20110214.html 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.
      http://www.plugincars.com/ears-wide-open-chevy-volt-marketing-manager-collects-driver-feedback-106763.html
      (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.
      http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20029344-48.html 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
      oil interests."
      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/opinion/23friedman.html
      Feb. 23, 2011 In "The Big Leak," back in December
      he addressed the same idea:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/opinion/05friedman.html
      . 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"
      http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110213/OPINION04/702139995/-1/OPINION
      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
      extraction.
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110210/ap_on_re_us/us_shale_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.
      http://climateprogress.org/2011/02/16/life-cycle-study-coal-harvard-epstein-health/
      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
      numbers.
      http://www.propublica.org/article/natural-gas-and-coal-pollution-gap-in-doubt
      Jan. 25, 2011.

      "WORLD ON THE EDGE," LESTER BROWN'S NEW BOOK:
      We've been a fan of Brown for years (and he of
      CalCars:
      http://www.calcars.org/photos-people.html#LB. His
      "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
      http://climateprogress.org/2011/01/20/lester-brown-extreme-weather-climate-change-record-food-prices/
      . Order the book at Earth Policy Institute
      http://www.earth-policy.org or at http://www.calcars.org/books.html

      MEDIA

      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
      http://www.pluginamerica.org . And you can order
      as many print copies ($5+$3 shipping) at
      https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2711/shop/item.jsp?storefront_KEY=553&t=&store_item_KEY=3484

      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"
      http://gm-volt.com/2011/02/15/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
      http://gm-volt.com/2011/02/18/gm-volt-charging-forward/
      . One of the most entertaining posts before the
      transfer came from Volt Vehicle Line Director
      Tony Posawatz: "Lighting the Way and Passing the
      Torch"
      http://gm-volt.com/2011/02/10/lighting-the-way-and-passing-the-torch/
      . Posawatz commemorates his fifth anniversary as
      GM Employee #1 on the Volt project. (gm-volt's
      partner site, http://www.nissan-leaf.net , has
      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.
      http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_02/b4210048400234.htm
      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
      people more.)
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/21/AR2011012105347.html
      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

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      http://www.calcars.org
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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