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Blogs echo CalCars/Frank request to Ford to allow pilot program

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  • Felix Kramer
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2006
      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
      Service fleet.

      Now, if only the auto makers would start listening to their customers
      before shoving products down their throats.

      Plug-In Partners Blog
      Ford First?

      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
      independent work:
      "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
      plug-in hybrid.
      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,
      innovative effort.
      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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