Plug-In 2008: Quotable Moments
- Plug-In 2008, the first International Conference on Plug-In Hybrids
and Plug-In Electric Cars http://www.plugin2008.com , was a stunning
success. Over 650 people attended, and over 1,000 came to the Public
Night. In this posting are some excerpts of notable statements from
the conference. Because there were overlapping sessions and we missed
many, it's selective (and we hope accurate) but we hope helpful. We
also that the conference organizers will make the Powerpoint
presentations available to the public in some fashion, since they are
important contributions to a rapidly-changing dialogue and new
developments weekly, if not daily.
After we completed these mini-transcriptions, we found that
AutoChannel has made available streaming video of most of the
speakers, starting at
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2008/08/03/095252.html -- so you
can use these excerpts as a partial guide to ones you may want to watch.
JONATHAN LAUCKNER, Vice President, Global Program Management, General
Motors: Defining the automobile industry's course going forward, in
terms of priorities, choices and actions, we think it's an open
field. As GM prepares to enter its second century, we will continue
to refine the internal combustion engine, and step-gear automatic and
manual transmissions, improved diesel technology, and expand the use
of biofuels such as ethanol. However, we increasingly believe that
the ultimate solution involves the electrification of the automobile
as soon as possible. In fact, there is now a clear shift in the
debate from if this will happen to when this will happen.
The large market is how we ultimately make a sizeable dent in our
petroleum dependency. We as automakers need to take the lead, no
question. And we are, by developing responsive, relevant technologies
and then driving down their cost. We understand this. But there are
important roles for others as well. There's no question that our
government has to play a significant role. One of the things that
government can do, and I'd argue must do, to promote energy
independence for our nation, is proactively to support the
development of advanced technology. Our nation must fund a major
effort to strengthen domestic advanced battery capabilities if we
hope to ride the firs wave of the plug-in revolution. Governments of
other countries, most notably China and Japan, are pouring millions
and millions of dollars into support for advanced batteries and other
advanced propulsion technologies.
Together with our coalition partners in the utility industry, GM is
working to transform automotive transportation as we know it. We must
get our nation and the world past oil dependence and get on the road
to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions , heading towards a
future that's electric. We're making the choices and taking the risks
that we believe are critical to doing plug-in vehicles right, and
doing them first. Ladies and gentlemen, that's what GM is thinking.
JAMES BOYD, Vice Chair and Commissioner, California Energy
Commission: Plug-in hybrids offer clear compelling fuel savings,
petroleum reduction, greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits for
Californians, In our 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report, the
California Energy Commission took the unprecedented step of
recommending a single transportation technology for development. That
technology was plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The 2005 Integrated
Energy Policy Report notes that "plug-in hybrids are the on-road
electric vehicle technology option that can bridge the gap between
today's hybrids and the zero emission vehicles of the future."
The need for alternative transportation technologies such as plug-in
hybrids is urgent. It was urgent then, it's doubly urgent today. At
this exposition, we're all going to see the promise of this
technology. A technological promise that has the attention of
policymakers certainly in this state and I think most other areas of
the United States. The dual benefits of phenomenal vehicle efficiency
coupled with the increased us use of our most environmentally benign
alternative fuel, California's electricity, is a great realization for us.
One of our presidential candidates even proposed a $300 million prize
for the right battery for transportation. How might this conference
inform such a prize? Well I'm hoping it will be a very strong message
that says, "Hey, we have the battery, we have the right application,
so let's move it." So over the next two days let's all explore the
applications and see how tantalizingly close we are to delivering on
the promise of plug-ins to reduce carbon, improve air quality, reduce
petroleum use. We've come to the right place, California and Silicon
Valley, at the right time. There's a convergence in California of
government policy and public attitude, and believe me that doesn't
happen all the time. So to me the planets and the stars are aligned,
so let's move this issue.
DAN SPERLING Automotive Board Member, California Air Resources Board:
The relevant [questions] are moving to the next generation of
batteries. We need fundamental battery research because there are not
going to be that many batteries sold in the next ten years, and no
matter how successful this is, they will be mainly after that, and
they're not going to be the kind of batteries we see now or even in
the early next generation, so the real need is on the R&D side.
DAN REICHER, Director, Climate and Energy Initiatives, Google.org:
Our vision is millions of vehicles plugging into a green grid.
GENEVIEVE CULLEN, Vice President, Electric Drive Transportation
Association: What's important to notice is that between 2005 when we
previously passed an energy bill and 2007 when this one passed, we
went from almost no interest or understanding or stakeholder support
for plug-in programs to a pretty universal support, if not
understanding. These significant authorizations for research
development and deployment are really an amazing progression of the
debate in a short amount of time. In Congressional time, that's
BILL BOYCE, Supervisor of Electric Transportation, Sacramento
Utilities District: The projected capacity from wind and solar as we
can see 71% when you add that up but due to intermittency we can only
utilize half of that, so 43%, and what you really get into, more than
anything a benefit: is it possible for PHEVs to provide that energy storage?
PHEVs, battery electric vehicles, anything with energy storage,
effectively becomes that cost-effective mechanism
There are people trying to develop business cases just around energy
storage for those aspects. And the plug-in hybrids really offer that
potential if the two-way flow of electricity from some of those
things like inverters can have the controllability designed in.
Battery warranty will be an issue. We recognize that the automakers
are definitely not going to want to warranty a battery used in an
application for energy storage all the time. That's where we come
back to looking at that application for 10 cycles a year, that's not
a high cycle life factor.
JIM KELLEY, Vice President of Transportation and Distribution,
Southern California Edison: [Comparing this moment to the lunar
landing and the fall of the Berlin Wall] Now here's the cool part.
I'm of the view that on this day and in this place we are witnessing
a tipping point that's very powerful. After decades of diverse and
siloed ideas, some of them pretty crazy, we're part of a convergence
that I believe will almost certainly change the world forever. If you
look around this room and I've had the chance to meet some of you,
not enough, what a strange bunch of bedfellows. Zealots, early
adopters, greens, CFOs, bankers, corporate behemoths, electric
utility people, all coming together driven by the force of a vision
and a commitment to sustainability, efficiency, environmental
stewardship, these are part and parcel of this conference and are
becoming part of the global fabric. And things I believe will never
be the same.
MARC DUVALL, Program Manager, Electric Transportation, EPRI: The
people that have strategically looked around have determined that we
have never successfully commercialized an alternative fuel for
transportation. And at this point there really is no turning back ,
there are no alternatives to wait for. This is absolutely disruptive,
this change must absolutely be managed, it must absolutely be
executed to the fullest.
The automotive industry that makes a 50-state, highly sophisticated
product that has processing power that would put computers of just a
few years ago to shame has to talk with these advanced smart grid
technologies that are being deployed roughly at the same time. So
you're going to see the plug-in hybrid or the electric vehicle and at
roughly the same time you're see the rollout of the smart grid,
they're both in development, they're coming together, you're building
railroad track from the west coast and the east coast and you're
trying to meet in the middle. And we absolutely have to get that
right. It won't be simple but it will enable simplicity.
The only way that can happen is if the utility industry that will
provide the fuel and the automotive industry that will provide the
products are absolutely at the same table and get this right. That is
the only way.
Within our collective industries and in the general public there is a
tremendous amount of misinformation -- myths. Many people do not
actually believe that hybrid electric vehicles pay off right now. $4
a gallon gasoline, 50% or better fuel economy. Many people still
remember the original Consumer Reports article or some other that
said, "This can't work." There are still articles being published
today about fuel economy technologies not being worth the effort. So
we have a lot of work to do, because ultimately until the people who
go out and buy these cars and the industries that both make them and
support them have fully internalized why we need to do this and all
the reasons we need to do this, then we could never be successful.
TOM TURRENTINE, Director, PHEV Research Center, University of
California at Davis: In 1993, I saw my first plug-in hybrid and it
was this moment -- it's like going up and down a stream up in the
mountains and trying to find a place to cross, looking for a place,
and you got out two rocks and you look at the next step and say, "oh
man, I'm going to fall in that creek," and you keep looking up and
down the stream. Well when I first saw this technology, I thought, it
looks like, step by step, we might get across that creek. And Andy
Frank saw this many years ago, he saw a lot of it, before a lot of
us, and many of us all in our way have started feeling that.
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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