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Our 1,000th Posting: A Moment to Celebrate
Sep 17, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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The URL for this posting is­calcars-news/­1000.html -- quite a number! We began sending items to CalCars-News subscribers on March 1, 2005,when we could see what was starting to happen -- a tidal wave of news coverage and broad public interest about our first PHEV conversion of a Prius, the birth of an aftermarket conversion industry and stirrings from so many new and unexpected constituencies as people asked, "Why can't we have these cars?"

Now we have 6,475 subscribers -- industry insiders, journalists, public officials, environmental, energy security and economic policy experts and advocates, plug-in fans and just plain drivers -- many of whom forward these messages to others or point to them in our News Archive.

We've certainly come a long way toward our goals -- it looks like we're about halfway there. Initial products are in sight, as major carmakers work on plug-in vehicles or defensively and unconvincingly explain why not. Appropriate government incentives, correct pricing signals for electricity, large-scale production, successful consumer acceptance, a significant market share and retrofits of fossil-fuel vehicles already on the roads all remain challenges.

For 42 months, through CalCars-News we've worked to keep you all informed about the most significant developments about PHEVs. We've equipped you with what you need to know to help the campaign. A scroll up from the bottom of the complete list of subject lines at­news-archive.html takes you through some eye-opening moments and achievements. At first, we'd post every time an article mentioned PHEVs. Then we cut back to instances of something interesting or important. Recently we've often done summaries and roundups. Back then, we pointed to the news; gradually, after years of following developments carefully, we became confident about giving our perspective and highlighting inconsistencies, trends and breakthroughs.

In the past few months, we've been so busy keeping up with the news and all we do at CalCars that we missed noting a few moments that meant a lot to us. So we're taking this occasion to revisit a few. Forgive us if we toot our own horn a bit. (And, if all this gives you hope, we encourage you to support us with a tax-deductible contribution at­sponsor.html -- we certainly still have so much still to do!)


  • Back in March, we announced that CalCars had won the first Aspen Award for Environmental Innovation. Other winners were Solar City Inc., Serious Materials Inc., California's Million Solar Roofs Initiative and Amory Lovins -- for details see­calcars-news/­936.html . You can see a photo of the sculpture award at our "Influencers and celebrities" page,­photos-people.html . (See below for what was said.)
  • Right above that picture, you'll see a photo of U.S. Rep. Lois Capps presenting Earth Day awards to CalCars and the plug-in campaign on behalf of the Santa Barbara Community Environment Council. (See text below.)
  • At the top of that page you'll see David Godfrey with his family. David is a 13-year-old "Future Environmental Specialist" on an "Environmental Sojourn" by the Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation. In August, at his request, we drove him to a tour of Lawrence Berkeley Lab and a meeting with its Nobel Prize-winning director, Dr. Stephen Chu.
  • If you click from there to our "Elected and appointed leaders" page­photos-leaders.html , you'll see a photo and explanation after we briefed a delegation from Costa Rica, led by its Minister of the Environment, thanks to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
  • And you'll find a picture of our two recent guests from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs with our Senior Advisor Randy Reisinger.

Here's more on those two awards, followed by a collection of our favorite recent quotes about PHEVs:

ASPEN AWARD PRESENTATION: Neil Jacobstein, CEO, Teknowledge Corp and Visiting Scholar, Media X Program at Stanford University, said upon giving the award:

"The non-governmental organization award goes to The California Cars Initiative, aka, for increasing energy efficiency and decreasing the environmental impact of automobiles. CalCars focuses both on public policy and technology development to promote 100+ mile per gallon plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. They have built prototypes, including the world's first plug-in Prius, and are working on other cars to show what can be done now with existing technology. They have already been successful in getting major carmakers to build plug in hybrid electric vehicles. CalCars Founder, Felix Kramer will accept the award on behalf of the California Cars Initiative."

GOOGLE.ORG ON OUR ASPEN AWARD: The official blog from Google's philanthropic arm, said "Aspen Institute Award honors CalCars, grantee" -- Posted by Kirsten Olsen, Program Manager,, March 28, 2008­2008/­03/­aspen-institute-award-honors-calcars.html :

CalCars just received the Aspen Institute's First Annual Energy and Environment Award for its prominent role in promoting PHEVs and the electrification of transportation. The inaugural award is meant to celebrate success and provoke conversations about ways to emulate and expand upon the success stories honored. We are thrilled about this honor for CalCars and not the least bit surprised that their contribution to the field of plug-ins has been recognized by such a prestigious organization. CalCars founder Felix Kramer has been instrumental in evangelizing about the benefits of plug-ins and strategically influencing key decision makers about their potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. There is no doubt that CalCars has already made history with their role in promoting this technology and we are proud to be a supporter of the organization. Congratulations to Felix and the CalCars team!

SANTA BARBARA ENVIRONMENTAL HERO AWARD: Here's a report from Michael Chiacos, Energy Program Senior Associate at the Community Environmental Council, Santa Barbara, CA:

CalCars receives the "Environmental Hero Award" at Earth Day in Santa Barbara: Perfect weather, 200 vendors, and a genuine buzz around environmental solutions greeted 12,000 attendees of Santa Barbara's Earth Day on Sunday, April 20th. Congresswoman Lois Capps of the 23rd District awarded Community Environmental Council's "Environmental Hero Award" to CalCars for its work to develop and promote the use of PHEVs. Congresswoman Capps explained to the crowd about PHEVs and presented the award stating that "CalCars' work reflects the best part of America -- a group of creative people who saw a problem, saw that the auto industry and government weren't getting to it fast enough, and got to work developing a solution. Imagine what we could achieve if America took this approach toward all our energy-related problems." Accepting the award on behalf of CalCars were Seth Seaberg from EDrive and Kim Adelman from Plug-in Conversions. Both demonstrated their conversion kits to the crowd and took orders. Rep. Capps said she wanted to get a PHEV, and spent the next 20 minutes visiting the two PHEVs at the Green Car Show, and talking with Seth, Kim, and others about PHEV related technology, policy and legislation.

The Community Environmental Council (CEC) puts on Earth Day every year on behalf of the community of Santa Barbara. The CEC is a 38 year old environmental non-profit focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy, sustainable transportation, peak oil and climate change. It recently received a $50,000 grant to bring Southern California's first PHEV school buses to Ventura Unified School District, and works to promote the electrification of transportation regionally and statewide. The CEC has developed a detailed blueprint on how Santa Barbara County can end its region's dependency on fossil fuels in one generation at

NOTE: These two awards certainly should have mentioned Ron Gremban, CalCars' Technical Lead, who indefatigably met challenges and indomitably overcome obstacles since the Spring of 2005, and the CalCars volunteers who give so much time and energy to our projects. And they really reflect all the work of many of the organizations, companies and publications listed at our ever-growing Partners page,­partners.html (if we've missed you on that page and we can point to your website with info on PHEVs, let us know).

MEMORABLE TURNS OF PHRASE: To close this posting, this collection of recent news comments about PHEVs can entertain you. And we invite you to pass them along...

"A Plug-In Conversion for Prius," The New York Times by Matthew L. Wald, April 27, 2008 [online version]­2008/­04/­27/­automobiles/­27PLUGIN.html Possibly the most sought-after technological innovation since Captain Kirk first flipped open his communicator is the plug-in hybrid.

"The end of the petrolhead," The Economist, June 19 2008­specialreports/­PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=11565627 The buzz-phrase now is plug-in hybrid.

"Ex-Intel head pushes electric cars" Associated Press by Ken Thomas, June 27, 2008­news/­chi-ap-grove-plug-ins,0,1749993.story "The drumbeat of the electrical transportation is accelerating like nothing I've ever seen in my life," Grove said.

"McCain Announces His Running Mate - The Chevy Volt" By Chuck Squatriglia/Keith Barry July 18, 2008­cars/­2008/­07/­mccain-announce.html The Chevrolet Volt has joined baseball and apple pie as an unassailable, non-partisan symbol of American can-do and know-how. General Motors won't start selling the plug-in hybrid for another 18 months (at least), but that hasn't kept it from becoming the most important political accessory since the flag lapel pin.

"Democrats Put Plug-In Hybrids on Main Stage" by Bradley Berman, August 27, 2008­incentives-laws/­democrats-put-plug-hybrids-main-stage-24908.html While the ability for Obama, if elected, to deliver on his energy-related campaign promises remains to be seen, Tuesday night's presentations helped establish the plug-in hybrid as a mainstream American household term perhaps as a synonym for 100-mpg vehicle.

"G.M. at 100: Is Its Future Electric?" The New York Times by Don Sherman, Sunday, September 14, 2008­2008/­09/­14/­automobiles/­14AUTO.html David Cole, the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., put a fine point on what lies ahead. "The plug-in hybrid is the most notable technological advancement of the past 50 years," he said. "G.M.'s challenge is making them profitable and continuing to invent a broad range of advanced vehicles."

"GM Looks for Buzz With Its Electric Volt; Auto Maker Hopes High-Mileage Car Will Repair Image Wall Street Journal by John D. Stoll September 15, 2008­article/­SB122143673862434189.html describes the Volt as GM's "most important model in decades -- and possibly the key to its survival."

"Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America" by Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, published September 9, 2008, acknowledgments, page 417: "Felix Kramer, who has made plug-in electric cars not only his passion but an imminent American reality, was always ready to take a query from me."

"We Can't Drill Our Way out of this Mess," by Robert Redford, in the Sept-Oct issue of Nature's Voice, newsletter of the Natural Resources Defense Council: the actor, director, environmentalist and NRDC trustee says "With intelligent policies, we could get plug-in hybrids, electric cars and new, clean biofuels to market faster....With intelligent policies, we could clean up the power grid that charges those plug-in hybrids..." In the same issue, the article on NRDC's "Move America Beyond Oil" campaign also emphasizes "putting millions of plug-in hybrids on the road." This mayi be the first time NRDC has featured PHEVs in promotions to all its members. (A good first step,but NRDC has a ways to go to give a consistent message. If you're one of NRDC's 1.2 million members, tell them you want to help put plug-ins front and center. Ask them to make sure that plug-in cars are added to the campaign's website at . Ask to update the page at the linked Resources, "Hybrid Values"­air/­transportatiion/­ghybrid.asp , which still happily says "hybrids don't need to plug in.")

ONE MORE MESSAGE: A special thanks to our webmaster, Michael Bender, out in the precarious Sacramento Delta, who makes sure our News Archive keeps delivering. Thank you to all our loyal readers -- especially the ones who read our long postings all the way through! And if our pitch halfway through didn't already convince you, we hope these comments encourage you to support our work: we really could use your help. It's tax-deductible with a credit card or Paypal, at­sponsor.html

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