January 24, 2006
National Coalition Launches Campaign to Urge Automakers to Produce
Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 24, 2006--Declaring the country's
economy, environmental health and national security at risk, a
grassroots coalition of cities including Austin, Baltimore, Denver,
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle as well as electric utilities
and national policy organizations today kicked off a nationwide
campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) would combine today's new
gas-electric hybrid technology with larger batteries that could
provide an all-electric operating range of 25 to 35 miles or more.
The result is an 80+ mile-per-gallon vehicle -- with even greater
fuel economy possible utilizing bio-fuels.
Plug-ins could be recharged by plugging into a standard wall socket,
delivering "electric" gallons of gas for about 75 cents a gallon at
prevailing electric rates. Such a vehicle could reduce gasoline
consumption for the average American by 50 percent to 70 percent and
reduce automobile emissions well in excess of emissions that might
result from the additional use of power plants.
"Plug-in hybrids represent a real near-term solution to America's
over-reliance on foreign oil imports and energy prices that escalate
the cost of everything and threaten the very economic life of our
nation," says Austin Mayor Will Wynn, who pledged $1 million in city
rebates to help citizens and businesses purchase the first wave of
plug-ins to roll off assembly lines. "The technology exists today,"
Wynn says. "This campaign will demonstrate to automakers that the
market is also there."
Already almost a dozen cities, over 100 public power utilities,
businesses and a host of national policy groups have signed on to the
"Plug-In Partners" campaign. Austin's template calls for cities to
initiate citizen petition drives and to encourage government and
businesses to issue "soft" orders or expressions of interest in
purchasing plug-ins. In Austin, 11,000 citizens have signed petitions
calling on automakers to produce plug-ins, and soft orders for 600
plug-in vehicles have been received from government and businesses.
For example, an area pest control company has pledged to buy up to
150 light weight plug-in trucks, once they are produced.
"Nothing has to be invented to produce a plug-in hybrid vehicle,"
says Dr. Andrew Frank, a mechanical engineering professor at the
University of California at Davis and Director of the UCD Hybrid
Electric Research Center. "Everything needed is available: the power
trains, the gasoline engines, the computer systems, electric motors
and batteries. All we need is for one of the large auto manufacturers
to step up to the plate."
An additional component of the nationwide Plug-In Partners campaign
is for electric utilities to help build a pool of funding in their
respective communities to provide rebates to citizens and businesses
buying the first round of plug-ins. Experts estimate there is
sufficient generation in place and available at night to charge up to
one-third of all vehicles in America, if they were plug-ins. They
point to plug-ins as a critical part of the answer to a looming crisis.
"Oil imports and the dark cloud they cast over this country requires
dramatic and immediate attention," says Frank Gaffney, President,
Center for National Security Policy. "When that prolonged oil crisis
occurs, Americans will pay anything because they will have no choice.
Why wait until a catastrophe strikes to get truly serious about
addressing the problem?"
Last year, U.S. consumers purchased more than 200,000 hybrid
vehicles, which have grown from two models in 2000 to 11 models
today. Hybrid sales are projected to triple over the next six years,
as more Americans demonstrate their desire for better fuel economy
and lower emissions. According to the Electric Power Research
Institute (EPRI), half the cars in the U.S. are driven just 25 miles
a day or less. "A plug-in vehicle with even a 20-mile range could
reduce petroleum fuel consumption by about 60 percent," says Bob
Graham, Manager of EPRI's Electric Transmission program.
EPRI has teamed with DaimlerChrysler AG of Stuttgart, Germany, to
design and build a plug-in prototype van that will be tested in a
small number of American cities over the next year. The vans, which
have a 20-mile all-electric range, will be outfitted with either
nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries or lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries.
The cost, reliability and weight of batteries are often cited by
automotive industry experts as one of the stumbling blocks to the
mass production of plug-ins.
"We have driven our fleet of over 200 electric vehicles almost 12
million miles and have had no major problems with the batteries,"
notes Edward Kjaer, Manager of Southern California Edison's Electric
Transportation Department. "The new generation of lithium-ion
batteries is more powerful and lighter-weight and with reasonable
volumes, should provide a price that would allow plug-in hybrid
electric vehicles to be competitive."
A number of leading energy efficiency and environmental organizations
also support plug-in vehicles as important to the reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming. Plug-In Partner
Coalition members include: Alliance to Save Energy, Environmental and
Energy Study Institute, Clean Air Coalition, California Cars
Initiative, and The Institute for Environmental Research and Education.
"Even drawing from our existing power plants, plug-in vehicles have
the potential to cut a vehicle's petroleum consumption by
three-fourths or more, can operate at as little as one-fourth the
fuel cost, and reduce greenhouse gases by two-thirds," said Kateri
Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. "As we
increasingly turn to alternative technologies to improve the fuel
economy of our vehicles, we will see increasing benefits to our
economy, our environment, and our national security."
News and information regarding the nationwide Plug-In Partners
campaign will be chronicled at www.pluginpartners.org which will
include summary reports on the results of petition drives, "soft
orders" and development of community incentives programs. The
coalition also will issue quarterly campaign reports over the coming
year to the media, elected officials and auto manufacturers.
For more information regarding the Washington press event contact:
Frank Walter, 202-299-0300, M 202-271-7727, fwalter@...
Editor's Notes: A media briefing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 24
at 9:30 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington. Participants
include: U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Austin Mayor Will Wynn;
Charles Fox, Deputy Secretary for NY Governor George Pataki for
Energy and Environment; James Woolsey, Set America Free; Frank
Gaffney, Center for National Security Policy; Kateri Callahan,
Alliance to Save Energy; Alan Richardson, American Public Power
Association, Dr. Joseph Romm, Center for Energy and Climate
Solutions; Dr. Andy Frank, University of California-Davis and expert
on Plug-in Hybrids. The media briefing will be webcast live at
www.pluginpartners.org at 9:30 a.m. EST and available on demand after
1:30 p.m. EST.
Plug-In Partners Coalition
Roger Duncan, 512-322-6157
Daryl Slusher, 512-322-6210
Lisa Braithwaite, 512-322-6511