Feb 5, 2009 (From the CalCars-News archive)
We're posting several of the most urgent recent developments about PHEVs -- expecting that our readers will be checking the sources we cited recently at "Ways to Stay Informed" in http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1038.html for daily developments. Below are news about federal legislation involving PHEVs; GM's plans to partner broadly to launch the Volt; the Electric Drive trade association's policy roadmap; updated CalCars pages; reports on plug-ins, global warming and Al Gore from the TED conference; Jon Wellinghoff moves up in influence; and a few save the dates.
SAVE TAX CREDITS FOR PHEVs: Plug In America is sponsoring a campaign to contact members of Congress to ensure that legislators don't remove plug-in car provisions from what's variously called the "stimulus" or the "recovery" legislation making its way through legislative process (passed the House; now before the Senate; then in Conference). The current proposal would double the number of new PHEVs eligible for incentives to 500,000, (Conversions not eligible, however.) For details see http://action.pluginamerica.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=512 . After one day, PIA's campaign has gotten more than 4,000 signatures.
GENERAL MOTORS BECOMES COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: On a day when the front page of the Wall Street Journal shouted, "Detroit Reels as Auto Sales Skid/Monthly Figures Plummet Compared with Last January, Clouding U.S. Bailout Effort," General Motors bravely announced its plans to launch an unprecedented partnership, starting with San Francisco and then encompassing other major metro areas to lay the groundwork for the successful commercialization of the Chevy Volt and other plug-in cars. The "roadmap" for plug-in ready communities, made at the Washington DC Auto Show, http://media.gm.com/servlet/GatewayServlet? target=http://image.emerald.gm.com/gmnews/viewmonthlyreleasedetail.do?domain=74&docid=51807 included:
GM'S LISTS CHALLENGES: consumer incentives to make this early technology more affordable; public and workplace charging infrastructure; consumer-friendly electricity rates and renewable electricity options; government and corporate vehicle purchases; supportive permitting and codes for vehicle charging; and other incentives such as high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane access.
GM IDENTIFIES KEY STAKEHOLDERS: Stakeholders that are key to establishing plug-in-ready metropolitan areas and regions include: State, city and county governments; Electric utilities; Regulators/public utility commissions; Permitting and code officials; Clean Cities coalitions; Local employers; Universities; Early electric vehicle adopters.
RELATED EFFORTS: This aligns the first US carmaker expected to roll out mass-produced PHEVs with parallel efforts underway, including the plans by the Mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland to make the SF Bay Area the "plug-in capital of the world" and "Project Get Ready," created at the Rocky Mountain Institute's Smart Garage event last fall (with GM as a participant). That effort will soon launch its own website; for now see http://move.rmi.org/capabilities/smart-garage.html and its initial efforts; see http://move.rmi.org/smartgarage/project-get-ready--20-cities-project-charter.html . It also meshes with Texas Governor Rick Perry's proposal for a state $5,000 tax credit for PHEVs in "non-attainment" communities (ones where air quality is too low to allow expansion of industrial facilities). Perry said this would provide "a unique way to store wind energy" and "keep Texas competitive in an emerging technology and take advantage of an energy portfolio that grows deeper and more diverse every day. http://governor.state.tx.us/news/speech/11852/
ELECTRIC DRIVE TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION WEIGHS IN: the trade association that includes automakers, utilities and many other stakeholders just released its eight-page long specific proposals for the administration at http://www.electricdrive.org/index.php?ht=a/GetDocumentAction/i/11212 . And in a press release, EDTA called on the Senate to "add provisions to reach and exceed President Obama's goal of 1 million fuel-efficient plug-in electric drive vehicles by 2015" to at http://www.electricdrive.org/index.php?ht=display/ReleaseDetails/i/11200.
CALCARS PAGES UPDATED: We've just brought the much-appreciated CalCars page, "How Carmakers are Responding to the Plug-In Hybrid Opportunity," http://www.calcars.org/carmakers.html up to date, including the latest on the PHEV plans for 18+ automakers. The page now includes a link to and a screen shot from our downloadable 24-slide PDF presentation, "Commercializing PHEVs" http://www.calcars.org/calcars-photos.pdf which features photos of the PHEVs that are within sight. And at "Conversions to Electrify World's 900+ Million Cars" http://www.calcars.org/ice-conversions.html to the photos from eight small companies and links to relevant CalCars-News postings on that topic, we've added references to three more fledgling startups. If you know of others, please send us pointers.
REPORT FROM TED: We're posting this from the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design event that's relocated from Monterey, CA (where we spoke last year) to Long Beach. This year, Better Place's Shai Agassi is a featured presenter; the Aptera EV makes its first public appearance (the second generation will be a PHEV); and Mission Motors (a startup founded by ex-Tesla engineer Forrest North with Jawbone Bluetooth Headset inventor Yves Behar) showed its new high-end (0-100MPH in 5.9 seconds) electric motorcycle. Toyota was unimpressively represented by a parked Lexus 250H and ride-and-drives of the 2010 model year Lexus RX muscle hybrid -- demonstrated by non-Toyota employees unable to answer questions by the savvy conferees asking about Toyota's plans for plug-in vehicles.
Also on Day 1 at TED were many presentations on climate change, with a focus especially on endangered oceans. Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of outsourcing giant Infosys, talked about India's future development path. In a preview of his forthcoming book, "Imagining India," he said that India's future development must be clean and based on a new energy model: the country "does not have the luxury of producing high emissions." Al Gore spoke soberly about the significant deterioration of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, and pointed to the new initiatives he helped create: http://www.wecansolveit.org and http://www.repoweramerica.org (featuring plug-in cars). He described the coal industry as spending hundreds of millions to promote "clean coal" and highlighted the coalition counter-effort, http://www.thisisreality.org . He displayed a US map showing dozens of recently cancelled coal power plants, as well as many others still on track.
PLUG-IN SUPPORTER PROMOTED Last week, President Obama named Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff to be acting FERC Chairman http://www.ferc.gov/about/com-mem/wellinghoff.asp . Wellinghoff has been a long-time supporter of renewable energy and the smart grid, both in his home state of Arizona and in DC, and he is an enthusiastic proponent of vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-grid (V2B and V2G) integration. He coined the term "Cash-Back Hybrid" for PHEVs as a way to recognize the potential for limited numbers of parked vehicles to receive revenue streams for providing utilities with distributed energy storage and ancillary services.
SAVE THE DATES: In Long Beach, CA August 10-13 is the second annual national Plug-In Conference -- see http://www.plugin2009.com/ for information. Finally, did you know that our nation's capitol is powered by a nearby coal plant? Al Gore has said in the past, "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants," but he has not endorsed the March 2 Climate Action http://www.capitolclimateaction.org/ planned in Washington DC, and preceded by Powershift09 http://www.powershift09.org , a national youth summit on climate change starting Feb. 27.