Plug-In Prius Debuts; ALTe Funded for Truck Conversions; Where Are 4WD EVs?
- Though we're no longer trying togive you all the PHEV news, but we
have lots to report you may not hear elsewhere: a few notes on
Toyota's fnally-unveiled Plug-in Prius. Will ALTe be the first big
gas-guzzler conversion company? The first plug-in four-wheel drive
cars appear. Get ready for October 14, "National Plug-In Day." News
stories on CalCars and a new presentation.
(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.)
TOYOTA PLUG-IN PRIUS ON VIEW: Toyota showed the production version of
its Plug-in Prius at the Green Drive Expo in Richmond. It has a
15-mile EV range (up to 62MPH), recharges in 180 minutes at 120 volts
and 90 at 240. It's priced at $32-$39.5K, minus a $2,500 federal tax
credit (less than the $7,500 maximum because it has a smaller
battery). See Wikipedia and Plug In America for info on other
credits, HOV access, etc. See
and the FAQ at http://www.toyota.com/prius-plug-in/ . If you're not
already registered, you can sign up next month to get on the list in
the initial 14 states. (They also offer buyers a lowest-yet deal for
Level 2 charging: $995 includes an evaluation visit, a Leviton
EVSE, and installation.)
Soon we'll see how well the Plug-in Prius will compete against the
more expensive Volt, which has a 35-40-mile all-speed EV range, but
lower MPG when it's driving like a non-pluggable hybrid. Many of the
million-plus happy Prius owners will consider switching. And with
Toyota's blessing the idea of spending extra to be able to plug in,
some may explore aftermarket companies to retrofit their old Priuses,
especially if they can gain government certifications and get their
prices down. http://www.calcars.org/howtoget.html .
A SWEET MOMENT FOR CALCARS! Many have noted that March 2012 will be
7.5 years since we converted the first Prius. If we hadn't done so,
and helped inspire and organize a broad campaign, would we be seeing
Toyota and GM PHEVs even now? Two iconic images: the sixth photo at
"Scenic Photos of Plug-In Hybrids"
http://www.calcars.org/photos-scenic.html , shows a late-version
test-fleet PHEV Prius in 2010, driving right by Felix Kramer's
converted 2004 Prius. And at the fifth photo at "New Plug-Ins
Arrive" http://www.calcars.org/photos-plugins-arrive.html , Felix
stands in front of the real PHEV Prius holding a new "J-plug" along
with the old-style "dongle" plug for conversions that has symbolized
the opportunity and benefits of plugging in.
ALTe FINALLY OUT OF STARTING GATE: The Michigan gas-guzzler
conversion company we've long been touting now gets a chance to
demonstrate a technical sollution and a business case for gas-guzzler
conversions. The long-hoped-for news: after waiting since 2009 for a
federal loan guarantee, it's privately raised $100M so it can get
started. Its advisory board has giant fleet owners that could become
customers, including Cox Communications, DIRECTV, FritoLay, Service
Master and Waste Management. (NOTE: Felix Kramer is a board member.)
Its first partner for a retrofit trial next spring is Pacific Gas &
Electric, and it's signed agreements with A123 Systems for batteries
and Remy for motors. More about the renamed ALTe Powertrain
Technologies at its new URL: http://altept.com .
WANTED: WINTER-WEATHER PHEV: In addition to the MPG results we
reported on recently for Felix, Ron, and Andy Frank at
http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1142.html , Felix has documented
the performance of his Volt as the first plug-in car that could drive
without refueling from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe. With
a full battery starting on each 225-mile leg, including 8,000 feet of
elevation: 35.8 MPG up, 50.8 MPG down -- plus all-electric drives in
the Sierras. What's missing? No four-wheel or all-wheel drive, so
it's either avoid snowy/icy roads or put up with the inconvenience of
chains (actually low-profile cables). Felix and millions of others
are an unrecognized new market for any plug-in hybrid sedan/SUV with
4WD/AWD. For more, see
(including Felix's comment #4).
TWO UNAVAILBLE 4WD/AWD PHEVs: Though models are on the horizon, they
could be years away. Two are closest: The Mitsubishhi Outlander Sport
SUV is variously reported as being available in late 2012-early 2013.
. We think Mitsubishi will miss a giant opportunity if it follows its
announced plans to bring this car first to Japan, rather than to
those in the U.S. eager for such a car. And at the Frankfort Auto
Show, Peugeot unveiled its 508RXH, a diesel PHEV crossover/station
wagon. (Also exciting to biodiesel advocates.) It's slated for sale
in Europe in spring 2012. Unfortunately, Peugeot doesn't sell cars in
(click to see press release). We can also hope (and let them know) we
want them from Subaru and Ford.
HELP EXPAND NATIONAL PLUG IN DAY: Organized by Plug In America, the
Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association, over 10 cities are
already planning events. See http://www.pluginamerica.org/pluginday for more.
CHEVY VOLT'S TAG LINES: We and others have never cared for "more car
than electric." GM has picked up another message from its pool of
marketing copy, which we think is closer to a succinct and positive
benefits statement: "Electric when you want it. Gas when you need
it." You'll find it in magazines and as part of two amusing 30-second
ads airing on popular mainstream TV shows.
-- and see thoughtful comments afterwards.
CALCARS IN THE MEDIA: When Felix had a catch-up lunch with Bill
Moore, editor of EVWorld, at a quirky and entertaining Silicon Valley
landmark, he didn't expect it would turn into the entertaining and
complimentary tale, "Lunch at Buck's." Weaving together the histories
of CalCars and Tesla, it's a bit of a big fish story, resembling the
20-foot sculpture in the hangout's parking lot.
http://evworld.com/currents.cfm?jid=209 . And conversions of internal
combustion vehicles, with a link to Felix and CalCars, shows upin the
New York Times DotEarth blog by Andy Revkin, thanks to journalist and
author Jim Motavalli.
GREEN DRIVE EXPO: Following in the footsteps of Ron Gremban, who
spoke last year, Felix was set to talk on "U.S. Plug-in Car Movement:
Where Do We Go from Here?"
http://greendriveexpo.com/speakers-bay-area A large potential crowd
of people was talking to vendors, looking at dealer Volts and Leafs,
the Toyota lineup of Priuses and the electric RAV4, and the Owners'
Showcase of 1990s and converted EVs plus nearly-new Leafs and Volts.
Unfortnately at noon, the seats were almost empty. Felix had no
alternative but to inspire the crowd, reminding them how different
things are now that we have production plug-ins -- how far we've come
and how much we have to clap and cheer about. The noise brought in
the crowd! And the cheerleading revved Felix up enough to give what
those who've heard him called his most energetic talk. See Sebastian
Blanco's report at
listen to the audio at
minutes + 12 minutes questions), and see our completely revamped
slideshow at http://www.calcars.org/downloads.html .
Felix was followed by the compelling Lisa Margonelli, author of "Oil
on the Brain," talking on "Can Your Car Change the World?" One
provocative point: how fiercely the public believes gasoline's
"right" price is $2/gallon -- and is certain that sooner or later it
will always return there. Flind Blanco's report and an audio link at
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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