Fleet campaign: Austin and Mayors / NY State Consortium
Electric Plug-In Hybrid Concept Touted to US Mayors
Source: Austin Chronicle
[Jun 29, 2005]
Excerpted from Naked City section of Austin Chronicle.
Earlier this month, Mayor Will Wynn addressed the 73rd annual conference of
Mayors in Chicago, giving a presentation titled Smart Energy Best Practices
for Livable Communities, along with Austin Energy's Roger Duncan, who
focused on Austin's plug-in hybrid vehicle initiative. "Austin is at the
forefront of the transportation debate," Wynn said. "The beauty of this
system is that vehicles charged by the electric system will run on
alternative energy sources such as West Texas wind instead of Middle East
oil." The city's plug-in plan, first introduced last September, involves
purchasing a fleet of next-generation hybrid DaimlerChrysler Sprinter vans
for city use, charging them at night with wind power from Austin's
award-winning GreenChoice renewable energy utility program, and asking
other cities to buy similar fleets of plug-ins, placing huge bulk orders.
The goal is to create an economy of scale for the vehicles, making them
more affordable and plentiful for everyone. The plug-ins increase fuel
economy by 50%, significantly decrease emissions, and are capable of 20
miles worth of all-electric urban driving, according to Duncan.
Plugging for an Electric Transportation Sector
By Gene Zeltmann
New York Power Authority CEO and President urges development of electric
June 26, 2005
Our nation consumes just over 19 million barrels of oil each day, 25
percent of the world total, and nearly 60 percent of that ends up as
tailpipe exhaust from cars, trucks and buses. With oil production predicted
to peak in five years -- and the number of vehicles on the road continuing
to grow -- a Malthusian scenario emerges with clear implications for fuel
prices and our economy in the years ahead. Still, we are assured by most
experts that the internal combustion engine will be with us for some time
to come. Consider that only 88,000 hybrid-electric vehicles were sold in
the United States in 2004, accounting for about one-half of 1 percent of
total vehicle sales. And this year, with gasoline prices at an all-time
high, sales are forecast at around 200,000 hybrid cars, a significant
increase, yet still just 1.7 percent of the overall car market.
Despite generous tax incentives offered by the federal government, and most
states, including New York, J.D. Power Associates estimates that sales of
these vehicles will not exceed 3 percent of the U.S. market by decades
end, even with gasoline selling above $3 a gallon.
The reason for this peculiar state of affairs is economic: The price
premium of $3,000 to $5,000 that consumers must pay for a hybrid vehicle
does not in their minds, at least, offset the higher cost of gasoline.
But I believe the economics are about to change in the hybrids favor. At
Governor Patakis direction, the New York Power Authority is funding
research to demonstrate the feasibility of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Four
plug-in prototypes of the popular hybrid version of the Dodge Sprinter van
are to be manufactured by Daimler Chrysler and rolled out on Americas
highways as early as this fall. The plug-in option will boost the already
frugal gas mileage of the Dodge Sprinter hybrid by as much as 55 percent.
For a passenger car, that would be equivalent to a range of between 100 and
150 miles a gallon on a single eight-hour charge. (Once the charge is
spent, the car reverts to normal hybrid mode.)
This may or may not signal the ubiquity of plug-in hybrids in the future.
But their potential both to curb our oil addiction and provide major
environmental benefits--is clear. And given other incentives, I think well
be seeing a lot more plug-in hybrids on the road.
In addition to significant fuel cost savings, virtually zero emissions and
a vehicle with stored energy, the plug-in hybrid would be a boon to our
economy and energy security as it is largely dependent not on foreign
sources of oil but on domestic sources of electricity. This fuel is
available from either the electric grid or from distributed generation,
such as fuel cells.
One recent study found that if half of all vehicles were electric, wed cut
oil demand by 4 million barrels a day, or by about 40 percent of the
current total. There were also significant economic effects, such as an
improved balance of payments account, cleaner air, a vast increase in jobs
and bigger gross domestic product.
Governor Pataki is even more optimistic than that. He thinks that
100-miles-per-gallon hybrid vehicles might be the norm as early as 2015. If
true, we could conceivably cut oil demand in the transportation sector by
70 percent and possibly even more.
More, because trucks would account for as much as 64 percent of all plug-in
hybrid sales by then. And some experts think that, given current trends in
the price of gasoline, there could be as many as 70 to 100 varieties of
plug-in hybrid vehicles for sale by the middle of the next decade.
To make sure these predictions come to pass, Governor Pataki is now
orchestrating a second phase of the demonstration project arranging for a
consortium of New York companies to put these vehicles in their corporate
fleets, where their feasibility and benefits might be readily proven.
As our transportation and financial future is now presented in dark hues,
this shows that it can also be presented in bright ones -- powered by
clean, domestic sources of electricity.
Gene Zeltmann is Co-Chairman of the Electric Drive Transportation
Association, President and CEO of the New York Power Authority and Chairman
of the Electric Power Research Institute.
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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