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What a Week: Updates for Automakers/Markets/Events
Oct 6, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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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 developments come so rapidly that it's nearly impossible to keep up. (This week will be a challenge too, as we're at the RMI event described below.) Here's our roundup of top developments as well as recent items we haven't had a chance to discuss:

  • PHEV Credit: Means the Volt is $7,500 less
  • Audi, Volvo, Mitsubishi say they're working on PHEVs
  • Warren Buffet invests in BYD, Chinese battery company
  • Previewing the interior of the Chevy Volt
  • Disputes over how to develop an MPG sticker for the Volt
  • King County, WA unveils a new plug-in initiative; MSNBC reports
  • Google partners with GE on smart energy grid
  • Google envisions $4.1 trillion 22-year project.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute Smart Garage charrette in Portland
  • Vehicle-to-grid resources
  • Cascadia conference presentations an reports available
  • Journalist Dan Neil at AltCarExpo; Volt photo with


IMPACT OF PHEV CREDIT: GM-Volt got the bottom line right: the headline is in the URL:
http://gm-volt.com/­2008/­10/­03/­
along-with-wall-street-bailout-plug-in-car-tax-credit-is-passed-chevy-volt-now-7500-less/­
.
Our comments (see previous posting, were picked up by Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/­article/­rbssConsumerGoodsAndRetailNews/­idUSN0336545720081003
and Earth2tech
http://earth2tech.com/­2008/­10/­03/­cleantech-community-celebrating-green-bailout/­


AUDI, VOLVO, AND MITSUBISHI PHEV NEWS: At the Paris Auto Show, Audi showed another PHEV concept vehicle, the A1 Sportback http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2008/­10/­audi-introduces.html. Volvo said it would not have a PHEV before 2012 http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2008/­10/­volvo-cars-intr.html . And Mitsubishi, in addition to its all-electric I-MiEV vehicles, says it's planning on a PHEV: "We are advancing in development of plug-in hybrids," company president Osamu Masuko told a news conference. He said Mitsubishi Motors' know-how in electric cars would be a "tremendous advantage" for Japan's fourth largest automaker. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/­News/­International_Business/­
Commercial_electric_car_by_Mitsubishi_Motors_on_anvil_/­articleshow/­3567159.cms


WARREN BUFFET INVESTS IN BATTERY COMPANY: Everyone watches where Warren Buffet puts his money -- most recently in GE and Goldman Sachs -- and Constellation Energy, a utility with a large nuclear portfolio. Now utility subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Mid-America Holdings, has purchased 10% of Chinese battery maker BYD ("Build Your Dreams") for $220M. More at http://www.greentechmedia.com/­articles/­buffet-invests-230m-in-byd-1488.html http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2008/­09/­midamerican-and.html and a China-focused blog, http://greenleapforward.com/­ . BYD has announced it will sell PHEVs and EVs, first in China, then internationally, but its schedules have slipped.


PREVIEWING THE CHEVY VOLT: we and many others saw it at the AltCarExpo in Santa Monica. Here's GM-Volt's description of the two display panels. http://gm-volt.com/­2008/­09/­29/­more-chevy-volt-interior-details/­ and see almost-close-enough-to-read photos of the displays at the GM-Volt "gallery." This report of an email from Tim Grieg, the Volt's chief interior designer, includes the information that the car will have a fabric and a leather option -- reassuring to those who found the interior of the car on display somewhat low-end.


DISPUTES OVER THE VOLT'S STICKER: Reported at US News and World Report "Chevy Volt -- 100 mpg, or 48 mpg?" http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/­cars-trucks/­daily-news/­080908-Chevy-Volt-100-mpg-or-48-mpg-/­ the issue was whether the US Environmental Protection Agency will treat the car like a standard hybrid or an EV. See later reports at http://www.bloomberg.com/­apps/­news?pid=20601103&sid=a2GgcMQbsIcU&refer=us and at http://gm-volt.com/­2008/­09/­26/­calculating-the-volts-eps-rating-more-than-100-mpg/­ which also discussed conversations between GM and the California Air Resources Board.


"KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON GOING ELECTRIC to cut fuel consumption: New report outlines key initiatives to grow plug-in vehicle market" http://your.kingcounty.gov/­exec/­news/­2008/­1001plugin.aspx

As part of his strategic initiative to cut fuel consumption and harmful carbon emissions, King County Executive Ron Sims today unveiled a five-point plan to support the national switch to electric automobiles. The 2008 Electric Vehicle Report provides a blueprint for new standards for government fleets, provides incentives for using clean alternatives to fossil fuels, continues the county's participation in a national plug-in vehicle demonstration project, and looks to new electric vehicle technology as the key to energy efficient transportation for the coming decade. The report is at http://your.kingcounty.gov/­kcdot/­green/­electric/­

Also read an excellent MSNBC story, "Plug-in cars sparking a power shift: Studies show how drivers - and power grids - adjust to electric vehicles" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/­id/­26843591/­ by Science Editor Alan Boyle includes interviews and rides with Rich Feldman, a senior policy adviser in the Seattle mayor's office, and John Clark, CEO of V2Green.


GOOGLE PARTNERS WITH GE ON SMART ENERGY GRID: A few weeks ago, Google.com annouonced a partnership iwth General Electric on the "Smart Grid," which The official announcement http://googleblog.blogspot.com/­2008/­09/­partnering-with-ge-on-clean-energy.html says "Americans should have the choice to drive more fuel efficient cars -- or even electric cars - and manage their home energy use to reduce costs, and buy power from cleaner sources, or even generate their own power for sale to the grid....We'll start by working together in Washington, D.C. to mount a major policy effort to enable large-scale deployment of renewable energy generation in the United States. We'll also work on development and deployment of the "smart" electricity grid that will empower consumers, utilities, and technology innovators to manage electricity more efficiently and lower their carbon footprint. Finally, we'll collaborate on advanced energy technologies, including technologies to enable the large-scale integration of plug-in vehicles into the grid and new geothermal energy technologies known as enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)." See many analyses online, including http://online.wsj.com/­article/­SB122169192850849785.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


GOOGLE'S CLEAN ENERGY 2030 brings together many of the .com and .org's ideas together in a grand and stunning vision at http://blog.google.org/­2008/­10/­clean-energy-2030.html is the Google.org URL, cross-posted from the company's blog at http://googleblog.blogspot.com/­2008/­10/­clean-energy-2030.html. Google.org's Dan Reicher, Director, Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, and Jeffery Greenblatt, Climate and Energy Technology Manager, describe a 22-year $4.4 trillion project (you heard it right; by the way, it saves $1.1 trillion). The results would be decreases of:

  • Fossil fuel-based electricity generation by 88%
  • Vehicle oil consumption by 38%
  • Dependence on imported oil (currently 10 million barrels per day) by 33%
  • Electricity-sector CO2 emissions by 95%
  • Personal vehicle sector CO2 emissions by 38%
  • US CO2 emissions overall by 48% (40% from today's CO2 emission level) The plan involves three main steps: (1) Reduce demand by doing more with less; (2) Develop renewable energy that is cheaper than coal (RE<C); (3) Electrify transportation and re-invent our electric grid. You can see an hour-long discussion of the plan from Google CEO Eric Schmidt at http://blog.google.org/­2008/­10/­eric-schmidt-discusses-clean-energy.html and read the summary of the plan at http://knol.google.com/­k/­-/­-/­15x31uzlqeo5n/­1# . And for comments, search news and blogs for google 4.4 trillion.


MATTER NETWORK PREVIEWS RMI EVENT, "Industry Confronts Vehicle-to-Grid Roadblocks" http://featured.matternetwork.com/­2008/­9/­industry-confronts-vehicle-grid-roadblocks.cfm discusses a potentially significant "charrette" (intense brainstorming/design session) happening this week. (CalCars' founding meeting in 2002 was co-sponsored by the RMI spinoff, Hypercar, and we'll be attending the 80-person event.) Here are excerpts:

The automotive and power industries have similar high expectations. If the introduction of plug-in hybrids onto the grid goes well, it could reignite the sagging auto industry and provide additional revenue and stability for utilities that are straining to meet demand and control costs. If done poorly, the grid's vulnerabilities could be further exposed, and consumers could reject the new vehicles and send carmakers into more of a tailspin.

Recognizing the potential benefit to the environment, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a nonprofit organization focused on sustainable wealth and job creation, decided to bring the two industries and other interested parties together to tackle the myriad of challenges now, well in advance of the first plug-in hybrid rollout. From Oct. 8 to 10 in Portland, Oregon, executives from more than 20 organizations -- among them Ford, Tesla Motors, GM, Duke Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, Austin Energy Wal-Mart, IBM, EDS/Hewlett-Packard, and ZipCar -- will deliberate the technical and financial obstacles and develop solutions during a "charrette" workshop. RMI organized the "Smart Garage" charrette (a collaborative, problem-solving meeting) because the two industries -- transportation and power generation -- are major consumers of energy and big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, according to RMI consultant Laura Schewel. (Matter Network will be providing exclusive online coverage as a participant in the charrette. Stay tuned for continuing coverage.)

Technical (server) issues prevent us from posting a comment: "This is a good preview of the charrette, though I find the headline somewhat misleading. Roadblocks? Milder than a year or two ago, when people in government and industry were all worrying about 'showstoppers.' Both are very different than the challenges raised in the story -- including the risk that the transition could be done poorly. I'm looking forward to the event!"


VEHICLE TO GRID AND VEHICLE TO BUILDING: Much of the discussion at the Portland event will be focused on vehicle-to-grid integration. For RMI's description, see http://www.move.rmi.org/­move-news/­the-smart-garage--v2g----guiding-the-next-big-energy-solution.html . Public pages for the event, including information on who will attend, start at http://www.move.rmi.org/­capabilities/­smart-garage.html . Notably, in its papers about the Smart Garage, RMI has substituted for "V2H" (vehicle-to-home) the broader acronym "V2B" (vehicle-to-building.) Over at Google.org, RechargeIT engineer Rolf Schreiber has posted a "V2G Overview" http://rechargeit.blogspot.com/­2008/­09/­vehicle-to-grid-v2g-overview.html . And EV advocate Earl Killian (who occasionally guests at the Climate Progress blog) writes on "Plug-ins and the Grid" at http://www.killian.com/­earl/­editorials.html#e20081003 .


BEYOND OIL: TRANSFORMING TRANSPORTATION" CONFERENCE: For PDFs of the presentations and media reports on the Cascadia-sponsored event in early September at the Microsoft Event Center in Redmond, Washington, see http://www.discovery.org/­scripts/­viewDB/­index.php?
command=view&id=351&program=Cascadia&isEvent=true

"I'VE BOUGHT MY LAST GASOLINE VEHICLE" -- that's what Pulitzer Prize winning LA Times columnist Dan Neil, said at a panel at the AltCarExpo Sept 27, 2008 in Santa Monica. He elaborated on this at the subsequent Plug In America fundraiser, but we have been unable to get a transcript of his remarks. Neil appreciated PHEVs early -- see his LAT Magazine cover story, "Running on Empty" at http://www.calcars.org/­kudos.html . Also, from the PIA event, see a photo http://www.calcars.org/­photos-people-nav.html in front of the Chevy Volt, of GM's Dave Barthmuss with a plug along with James Woolsey and Coulomb's Richard Lowenthal and Mike Harrigan. (We're also adding a "names directory" to the top of this and other photos pages."

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