AP Interviews Andy Grove on PHEVs; PBS Newshour on Plug-In Cars
- More below from Intel's former CEO Andy Grove: this story is now
running at the Chicago Tribune's website and should get broad
distribution Sunday and Monday. See also our June 10 report at
Before that story: On Wednesday, the daily PBS Newshour ran a
9.5-minute story on plug-in cars. Watch/read transcript at
. Veteran reporter Spencer Michaels traces back the story to the ZEV
Mandate in the 90s, and looks at PHEVS (CalCars' Felix Kramer and
Luscious Garage's Carolyn Coquillette appear) and and EVs, focusing
on Tesla. Mary Nichols of the Air Resources Board is interviewed as well.
The story spends a good bit of time on hydrogen fuel-cell cars. (It
continues to surprise us that journalists who zero in on higher
initial costs in the thousands of dollars for plug-in cars, are
blinded by hydrogen promises. For instance on June 16, Honda showed
off its fleet of 100 Clarity hydrogen vehicles, each costing hundreds
of thousands of dollars, and said the price could fall under $100,000
within 10 years. This didn't stop the Wall Street Journal the NYTimes
from treating them as news about today's automobile choices! See
AP Interview: Ex-Intel head pushes electric cars
By KEN THOMAS | Associated Press Writer June 27, 2008
WASHINGTON - Former Intel Corp. chairman Andy Grove has a knack for
sensing when larger circumstances should force changes at a company
or an industry -- and how to respond.
He even has coined a term for it: the "strategic inflection point."
Now the retired chairman of the world's largest computer chip maker
thinks the term applies to energy and transportation, where
record-high gasoline and oil prices have renewed interest in
alternative energy sources and advanced vehicles.
During the past year and a half, Grove has created his own crash
course in electric power, plug-in hybrid vehicles and finding ways of
shifting the nation's fleet of vehicles from gas. His goal: To draw
more attention to electric vehicles.
"The most important thing I would like to do is light that almost
half-assumed truth up in neon lights. Electricity in transportation
has to be done. It is urgent. It is important that everything else is
secondary," Grove said during a recent phone interview with The
"The drumbeat of the electrical transportation is accelerating like
nothing I've ever seen in my life," Grove said.
Grove, 71, who was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1997, is
the latest industry and government heavyweight to push plug-in
hybrids and electric cars. Former CIA director James Woolsey, former
Secretary of State George Schultz and Google Inc.'s philanthropic
arm, Google.org, have touted the benefits of cars that could plug
into a standard wall outlet to recharge the battery.
Several automakers are testing plug-in prototypes that would allow
the vehicle to run on electric power for the first 40 miles. The
technology hinges on the development of advanced lithium ion
batteries and companies such as General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor
Corp. hope to have an extended range plug-in available in limited
quantities by 2010.
In the latest edition of The American, published by the American
Enterprise Institute, Grove writes that the beauty of electric power
is its ability to be produced through multiple sources such as coal,
wind and nuclear, and its "stickiness" -- it can only be transported over land.
Oil, by contrast, "flows to the highest bidder," making the United
States more susceptible to large demands for petroleum from growing
economies such as China.
While car makers have been developing plug-ins, Grove says the nation
should consider ways of retrofitting the 80 million low-mileage
pickups, sport utility vehicles and vans on the road to make them
capable of running on both gasoline and electric power.
Giving these vehicles "dual fuel" functions would be similar to
changes made in other technologies. DVD players, for example, were
often combined with VCR tape players when they were first introduced
to help consumers make the transition.
To push the technology along, Grove suggests tax incentives to take
the risk out of battery development and help offset the costs of
conversion kits. Utilities, he says, could subsidize the early
adopters of plug-ins by providing free electric power to the vehicles
for the first year to 18 months.
"I think it is a legitimate place for the government to fund, to
accelerate it," he said.
Automakers have urged the government to provide more consumer tax
incentives and research aid to develop advanced batteries, but they
have questioned efforts to retrofit the vehicles.
Any changes to the engine would void the warranty, and the
alterations could undermine the vehicle's reliability and safety
functions, automakers say.
"We strongly discourage consumers from retrofitting vehicles," said
GM spokesman Greg Martin.
Grove says the fledgling plug-in hybrid movement offers parallels to
the Homebrew Computer Club from the mid-1970s that helped electronic
hobbyists in northern California set the stage for personal
computers. Plug-in hybrid conversion shops could spread the
technology in similar ways.
"The personal computer ... went to individuals first before it went
to corporations. The conversion goes to individuals," Grove said.
"Electric cars ... the corporations are sitting, wishing this whole
friggin' thing to go away. Which is exactly what the computer
companies' attitude was to personal computers."
Grove has battled Parkinson's disease and devoted millions of dollars
and work to support research into the disease. He has taken to
alternative energy issues with a similar intensity, tapping into a
network of plug-in enthusiasts and experts. Grove says he even bought
a textbook on electric and hybrid vehicles written by a University of
"They are all enthusiastically tutoring me," he said.
Grove co-teaches a Stanford University business school seminar, and
will devote the class next fall to examining ways of making the
electric car possible.
He acknowledges that the shift to electric transportation will be a
daunting challenge, but notes that President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt worked with Detroit's automakers during World War II to
quickly retool their plants to supply the war effort. At a time of
$4-plus a gallon for gas and the dangers of oil politics, those
lessons shouldn't be lost.
"I think technologically it's doable. I think the logic is pretty
compelling," Grove said. "Somebody better drive it and play Roosevelt."
Biographical info on ex-Intel head Andy Grove
By The Associated Press June 27, 2008
NAME: Andrew S. Grove.
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 71; born Sept. 2, 1936, in Budapest, Hungary.
EXPERIENCE: Senior adviser to executive management, Intel Corp.,
2005-present; Chairman of the Board, Intel Corp., 1997-2005; Chief
Executive Officer, Intel Corp., 1979-1997; one of the founders of
Intel Corp. in 1968; joined the research and development laboratory
of Fairchild Semiconductor and became assistant director of research
and development in 1967. Grove is a lecturer at the Stanford
University Graduate School of Business.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, City College of New York, 1960;
doctorate degree, University of California, Berkeley, 1963.
BOOKS: Physics and Technology of Semiconductor Devices (1967), High
Output Management (1983), One-on-One With Andy Grove (1987), Only the
Paranoid Survive (1996), Swimming Across (2001), Strategic Dynamics:
Concepts and Cases, co-authored by Robert A. Burgelman (2005).
FAMILY: Wife, Eva; two daughters.
QUOTE: "The drumbeat of the electrical transportation is accelerating
like nothing I've ever seen in my life."
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --