PHEVs Made The Big Time in 2006: Year-End Review
- You can find this look at 2006 plus our goals for 2007 at
<http://www.calcars.org/2007.html>, and you can download it in more
readable form at
<http://www.calcars.org/calcars-2006-2007-package.pdf>. We hope it
will inspire you to make a tax-deductible contribution to CalCars.org
by credit card/check/PayPal at <http://www.calcars.org/sponsor.html>.
Calcars Year-End Review: Plug-In Hybrids Made The Big-Time In 2006
Just scan the postings at CalCars' News Archive
<http://www.calcars-news.html> to see the momentum that grew from so
many directions. We start with items that involve mainly CalCars.
Then we include other developments, organized roughly by
significance. So many organizations and people are now working on
PHEVs; in the events of 2006, we were centrally involved in some; in
others we made introductions, started the ball rolling -- or simply
welcomed efforts from partners. Thanks! (apologies for any omissions)
Our most-photographed car, a conversion by EnergyCS, driven daily by
Felix Kramer, conveyed PHEVs' reality internationally. It was
involved in events with many federal officials, entrepreneurs, Bill
Clinton, Al Gore, and many others -- see photos on website. In
mixed-speed driving, that car routinely gets over 100MPG of gasoline
plus about $0.01/mile for electricity. It now has over 12,000 miles
and has averaged over75 MPG (that low because of many long-distance
In addition to Ron's and Felix's cars, we added three more to our
PRIUS+ fleet: One converted with Electro Energy joined Felix's in a
spectacular Capitol Hill blitz, coordinated by Set America Free, with
dozens of Senators and Representatives in support of the Vehicle and
Fuel Choices for American Security Act. Two converted as part of the
EAA-PHEV "Do It Yourself" project went to drivers in Seattle and Palo Alto.
We engaged in six months of high level discussions with executives
and engineers at Ford Motors, along with Prof. Andy Frank and Ford
advisor/architect/designer William McDonough. While welcoming our
Escape Hybrid proposals, ultimately the company was too preoccupied
to respond -- but the opportunity remains!
We joined a delegation to Sacramento sponsored by E2 with the
Greentech Innovation Network (founded by venture capitol firm Kleiner
Perkins) that Governor Schwarzenegger said helped convince him to
support for the pioneering Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).
Founder Felix Kramer participated in dozens of high-level events,
spoke at conferences, demonstrated his car, networked with public and
private sector leaders , built support, strategized, fundraised,
blogged and updated CalCars-News. Technology Lead Ron Gremban further
developed our hardware and software, managed continuing conversion
projects, evaluated new projects and technologies, gave technical
talks, and, with Prof. Andy Frank, developed our specific proposals
to Ford. Communications Director John Davi re-vamped our website,
helped develop our BETTAH animation and designed the highly effective
100+MPG signage for our cars, before he had to accept more secure
employment. Michael Bender saved us by becoming responsible for
updating the website. Dave Bagshaw recently signed on as a Senior
Advisor, bringing his entrepreneurial and technical expertise.
Advisors on batteries and a possible for-profit spinoff have also
been effective. Dozens of volunteers made themselves available even
at night and on weekends to help in many ways.
PHEVs got favorable in-depth media coverage from Scientific American,
The Economist, US News & World Report, Popular Science, Thomas
Friedman's Discover TV program, newspaper editorials, broadcast and
online outlets. Sherry Boschert's book, "Plug-In Hybrids: The Cars
That Will Re-Charge America," was published.
Our website pages tracking car-makers statements, our photos of
high-profile people with PHEVs, downloadable flyers, endorsement
lists, explanations of conversions and our email Newsletter (with
4,000 subscribers and significant secondary distribution) were widely praised.
MAJOR PHEV DEVELOPMENTS
General Motors announced it will build a production PHEV Saturn Vue,
but with no timetable. (A second GM announcement is likely soon.)
Toyota said it is "pursuing" PHEVs, but they aren't yet "viable."
Bill Ford expressed "keen interest." Nissan committed to research.
Batteries, cited as the main obstacle by auto-makers unsure of
lithium-ion battery life, emerged as a key to what happens next.
Companies including A123 Systems, AltairNano, Electrovaya, Electro
Energy, Firefly, Johnson Controls, Valence and others reported rapid
progress with much better batteries beginning to be tested and
evaluated. CalCars' "No-Worry" fleet plan, in intense development at
year-end, was favorably received by battery makers, utilities and
White House interest grew following the " addicted to oil" State of
the Union address. The Advanced Energy Initiative website/brochure
included a picture of our first conversion; Pres. Bush went on the
road with speeches about PHEVs with 40-mile range that "you just plug
in." Assistant Energy Secretary Karsner reports the President asking
for updates on battery technology ever since.
The US Department of Energy held its first workshop on PHEVs; the
FreedomCar program's focus on PHEVs expanded. The National Research
Laboratories began evaluating converted vehicles. A Lab analysis that
even if 84% of today's cars were PHEVs, we'd already have enough
night-time electricity, woke many people up!
Endorsements from Members of Congress grew rapidly and we expect will
have positive results in 2007.
Plug-In Partners launched in January and has over 8,000 "soft orders"
for PHEVs, as well as endorsements from most of America's largest
cities, hundreds of institutions and from AutoNation, the country's
largest car dealer.
Investment firm Alliance Bernstein released a study predicting rapid
penetration of hybrids followed by PHEVs, calling them "game-changing
Conversion company Energy CS delivered a dozen Priuses, then was
joined by Hymotion, Hybrids Plus and Manzanita Micro. They and others
responded to an RFP to convert up to 600 New York State fleet hybrids
for $10 million. The PHEV Development Consortium assembled component
makers in a trade association.
Plug In America accelerated its advocacy for PHEVs and electric
vehicles (EVs), helped by the wide attention given to Chris Paine's
documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and the launch of the
Tesla Roadster -- the car that proved electric does not mean
"compromise" for car performance. The national Electric Auto
Association (EAA) gave CalCars and EnergyCS an award.
Environmental groups that had been unsure of the benefits of EVs
began to see them as a big future win, especially for global warming.
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC) now have PHEVs on their agendas, as do some Sierra Club chapters
Electric utilities bolstered their support. Associations of public
and investor-owned utilities endorsed Plug-In Partners, and Pacific
Gas & Electric included a pitch in monthly bills to five million
customers. Southern California Edison led testing of the
DaimlerChrysler/EPRI Sprinter, advanced batteries and converted Prius
PHEVs. Sacramento Municipal Utility District sponsored a study
showing that using PHEVs as storage in "Vehicle to Grid" (V2G) could
allow SMUD to increase its wind capacity.
California government agencies focused their attention on PHEVs. The
Air Resources Board and the Energy Commission began to allocate
resources to PHEV programs, with more coming in 2007. ARB's
Technology Symposium highlighted PHEVs. The South Coast Air Quality
Management District sponsored a PHEV conference and funded
conversions, and the Bay Area AQMD helped launch Plug-In Bay Area.
UC Davis Prof. Andy Frank began to gain well-deserved recognition for
having developed PHEVs for 30 years. He continued working on his
ChallengeX conversion of a Chevy Equinox into the world's first flex-fuel PHEV.
Silicon Valley companies supported PHEVs with an SVOilFree
conference, we held events at Google, Palm, IDEO and others.
Newly-formed Google.org confirmed reports it will soon become
involved with PHEVs.
WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN
We didn't get an automaker to begin producing even single prototypes
of passenger PHEVs. Aftermarket conversion companies fell short of
meeting strong demand for vehicles from utilities, governments and
early adopters. We reached many of our other 2006 goals -- except for
some involving CalCars.
Building CalCars financially and institutionally remains a challenge.
Because we didn't raise enough money, Ron, Felix and John were paid
for only a few months. We kept going barely -- but missed out on
opportunities because we were stretched too thin or lacked funds for
travel, conferences and handouts. We deferred ready-to-launch
projects to 2007. With lots of help, we did our best!
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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