Blogs echo CalCars/Frank request to Ford to allow pilot program
- Blogs by a leading journalist on "clean tech" and by the national
Plug-In Partners campaign have joined in expressing their hopes that
Ford will see a benefit in
By Tyler Hamilton, senior technology reporter and columnist for the
Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper. His bi-weekly column,
Clean Break, is the basis of a blog of the same name that discusses
trends, happenings and innovators in the cleantech market.
Bill Ford "keenly looking" at plug-in hybrids
by Tyler on Fri 12 May 2006 12:19 AM EDT | Permanent Link | Cosmos
You've got to give credit to Felix Kramer of the California Cars
Initiative (CalCars) and plug-in hybrid guru Prof. Andy Frank of the
University of California at Davis for their passion and tenacity. As
part of their ongoing mission to convince the major auto
manufacturers to embrace the plug-in hybrid concept for future car
models, the two have most recently focused their efforts at Ford Motor Co.
First they spoke with high-level managers at Ford about a possible
program they wanted to undertake that would involve converting a
small fleet of Ford Escape Hybrids into plug-in versions. But they
needed the company to officially give its blessing, so they wrote a
letter dated May 8 to CEO Bill Ford asking him to officially announce
support for the program at the company's shareholder meeting today or
some time within the next week. At the Ford meeting Bill Ford was
pressed to give an answer, and while he said there was nothing yet to
announce, he did confirm "we are keenly looking at it."
Taking that as a positive sign, Kramer hopes Ford will make its
official announcement next Thursday at the White House, where the Big
Three auto manufacturers will be having a meeting with President Bush.
It may be silent in Canada, but the plug-in hybrid movement is strong
and growing in the United States, to the point where even the
president is mentioning the benefits in public speeches. It's only a
matter of time, it seems, before the concept breaks beyond the
demonstration phase. The Plug-In Partners coalition, which includes
CalCars and 20 major U.S. cities, is now pushing U.S. Congress to
encourage the adoption of flex-fuel plug-in hybrids (meaning the
hybrids can also work on an E85 ethanol blend) with the U.S. Postal
Now, if only the auto makers would start listening to their customers
before shoving products down their throats.
Plug-In Partners Blog
Last week, Bill Ford made an announcement at his Stockholder meeting
. "Pressed by activists to take steps to improve the efficiency of
Ford's vehicle line-up, Bill Ford Jr, great-grandson of Henry Ford,
said the carmaker was considering launching a plug-in hybrid, a
potential industry first.
Here is the story from Consumer Affairs.
Ford May Build a Plug-In Hybrid
May 11, 2006
Ford Motor Co. is considering a major hybrid initiative -- a plug-in
car -- that could make the struggling automaker the leading U.S.
producer of hybrid cars.
Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford told shareholders at the automaker's
annual meeting that the automotive market is shifting rapidly because
of higher oil prices and the company is trying to respond.
"Our fleet is getting smaller and we are working hard on ethanol,
biofuels and hybrids," Bill Ford told shareholders.
Plug-in hybrids can be charged from an outlet and have greater range
in all-electric mode. A small gasoline engine provides power for the
vehicle over longer distances, much like the Toyota Prius.
Environmentalists argue that plug-in hybrid technology is the most
immediate option to improve fuel economy and cut greenhouse gas emissions."
The development inspired plug in activists Andy Frank and Felix
Kramer to write Ford a letter .
The group plans to rapidly build a small prototype/demonstration
fleet of plug-in hybrids using Ford's Escape Hybrid as a platform.
First customers for the conversions of several dozen SUVs would be
cities, utilities, CEOs, entrepreneurs and celebrities.
The vehicles would demonstrate a range of energy storage and
propulsion components, flex-fuel (E85) capability and other design solutions.
Asking for no money or other resources from the company, the group
has asked Ford to release a statement giving permission to begin
"A consortium that includes UC Davis engineering Prof. Andy Frank and
the non-profit California Cars Initiative is starting a project to
demonstrate the potential of the Ford Escape Hybrid to operate as a
There's a growing national interest in this technology, especially
among fleet buyers, to further reduce oil consumption and greenhouse
gases. While Ford focuses on expanding the adoption of hybrid
technology throughout our line, we applaud their choice of the Escape
as a development platform, and we will support this independent,
We delegate Ford advisor and designer/architect William McDonough to
participate in this project."
As noted on the Energy Blog
"If the consortium can come through with their plans to build a
demonstration fleet that would be a real kickoff for the plug-in
movement. It would seem a natural to me if Plug-In Partners were
somehow associated with this program.
Let's hope that Ford has some real plans to produce a plug-in; it
would be the first time in a long time that a U.S. auto company has
led the field in something this significant."
It would indeed, it would indeed.
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