PLUG OK license plate
Our New Guzzler Video; Other Media; Apply for US Billions; GM Book; Correction
Mar 27, 2009 (From the CalCars-News archive)
CalCars-News
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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Here's information on how to get the federal application for plug-in car program awards; a 2-minute video to watch and vote on BEFORE SUNDAY NIGHT, links to a recent important conference and other media, and a correction of a key URL in yesterday's posting and an apology and further discussion about one of the items in that posting.

DOE SHOWS US THE MONEY! When we said last week that the $2.4 billion President Obama announced at Southern California was not new funds, we neglected to note that what was new was that the DOE has released solicitation documents for these funds -- with applications due May 13. So get ready: it's not just the large companies that should be applying, and there are funds for a broad range of projects and activities. If you're a small company or organization, partner with an institution with experience with the complex federal applications process, or hire a consultant. Find out more at "DOE to Award Up to $2.4B for Advanced Batteries, Electric Drive Components, and Electric Drive Vehicle Demonstration/Deployment Projects" http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2009/­03/­doe-to-award-up-to-24b-for-advanced-batteries-electric-drive-components-and-electric-drive-vehicle-d.html . Finding the actual documents isn't always easy; one of the following will work: use the links from that report or at http://www07.grants.gov/­search/­search.do?&mode=VIEW&flag2006=false&oppId=46161 click on "Application" or go directly to http://apply07.grants.gov/­apply/­UpdateOffer?id=11180 ,.


CALCARS VIDEO ON CONVERTING GAS GUZZLERS: With the help of Chris Baldwin and Sustainability Media http://www.sustainabilitymedia.com (our video partner for many projects, most recently the documentation of the new San Francisco Charging Stations), we've produced a 1 minute and 45 second video explaining the reason we're working to launch a major effort to build awareness for the opportunity to convert large internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles -- what former Intel CEO Andy Grove calls "PSVs" (Pickups, SUVs and Vans) to run partially on electricity. We have big ambitions in this area to find ways to create an entire new industry that will bring green jobs to installers in every town and city in the country, as well as internationally. Watch the video at http://www.planetforward.org/­videos/­convert-millions-of-gas-guzzlers-already-on-the-road-to-plug-in -- At that page, we say "The short video explains a strategy for how to have a rapid impact on two great challenges that result from our dependence on fossil fuels: reducing greenhouse gases and increasing energy security. It's produced by CalCars.org, the non-profit that helped spark the interest in plug-in hybrids. It explains how we can't simply wait for new plug-in cars from automakers -- they won't and can't deliver quickly enough. The answer, surprisingly, is found in the hundreds of millions of vehicles already on the road. CalCars explains how to do something few yet think is possible or achievable." The video is at the PlanetForward, a website for a new public broadcasting show that will be highlighting innovative energy solutions in its April 15 national broadcast. Before then it's soliciting video, audio and written submissions and inviting visitors to the website to rate and comment on submissions -- which they presumably will take into account in deciding what appears on the show. We hope you'll register there and vote for ours BEFORE 6PM EST MARCH 29. You'll also find videos on which can cast your ballot from Plug In America's Sherry Boschert, Tony Markel from the National Renewable Energy Lab, and blogger Michael Hoexter. You can see a higher-quality version of our video at http://www.sustainabilitymedia.com/­blog/­02009/­mar/­12/­calcars-part-pbs-special-energy/­


CALCARS MEDIA: Here are a few recent items:


TWENTY-SECOND ENTRY ON OUR LIST OF BOOKS ABOUT PHEVS: At http://www.calcars.org/­books.html#wgm you can get "Why GM Matters: Inside the Race to Transform an American Icon, by William Holstein. This is a very-up-to-date book (it covers events in Detroit and Washington, DC through early 2009), by a veteran business writer. An entertaining 24-page chapter on the Chevy Volt profiles Volt team leaders Tony Posawatz, Frank Weber, Denise Gray, Jelani Aliyu, explaining how important the new car is to the company -- and why its photo is on the book's cover.


CORRECTIONS: Our new President has shown the way in stepping forward to take responsibility for errors -- and in reinstating science as the starting point for our understanding of the world and our actions to solve our problems. The last posting contained an error and a mis-statement. First we had the wrong URL for the IEEE Spectrum interview with EPRI's Mark Duvall. The correct location is http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/­mar09/­8409 . We've fixed the link at our archive. Thanks to many who wrote in -- at least we know that people are following our links!

More importantly we mischaracterized a serious academic work in a somewhat offhand comment. We were wrong to conflate two categories: misinformation and questionable. We're trying to counter many misdirected ideas floating around and gaining currency these days, including the value of paying thousands of dollars to scrap cars that could be converted, the danger of our being dependent on imported batteries, and incidents where PHEV conversions don't get high MPG). Our disagreements in this case are qualitatively different, and we wronglly characterized a serious peer-reviewed effort by an eminent academic group that has made important contributions to analyzing the impact and benefits of plug-in cars.

We heard from Constantine Samaras, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Climate Decision Making Center, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University. With his permission we're reproducing his email below, followed by a few additional comments from us.

SAMARAS EMAIL: We met at the 2008 Brookings-Google conference for plug-ins in Washington. When we spoke, I stated that I was sincerely grateful for all of the good work you and Calcars have accomplished and that I and other researchers have come to depend on the Calcars updates for cutting edge information and in-depth analysis regarding plug-ins. I feel the same way today, and am still grateful.

However, a comment in your latest calcars news update deserves a response. In the update, you mention Dr. Mark Duvall's interview with IEEE Spectrum, and you say "[Duvall] responds to the latest misinformation and questionable analyses, including a Carnegie Mellon study that questions whether large battery PHEVs will be viable".

While there is plenty of misinformation and questionable analyses out there regarding plug-ins, it is unfortunate that you would characterize our work as such. It was definitely not intended to be misinformation, I don't think it would qualify as questionable, and I urge you to read the article (I will send you a final copy when it is published in the journal). We set out to answer a question that remained unanswered in the literature, namely how does battery weight and distance between charging affect the fuel use, cost, and GHGs from plug-ins. Our assumptions were clearly stated, and we looked at different cases and assumptions to see how the answer changes. What we found was that weight and distance between charging does affect the things we were analyzing. We would be happy at any time to talk with you about our work and how it can be improved. We share the belief that we need to get well-engineered plug-ins on the road as soon as possible, and analyses like ours can add to the discussion and assist automakers and policymakers.

As researchers, our goal is to pose interesting questions, collect and analyze data, state assumptions and methods, and report results and implications. We then subject our work to blind peer-reviews and revisions, in order to be published in reputable peer-reviewed academic journals. Of the perhaps dozen or so peer-reviewed studies of plug-in hybrids that exist, three have come from our Carnegie Mellon group, and we have published several other proceedings and conference papers on this subject. Indeed, my 2008 Ph.D. dissertation is titled: "A life-cycle approach to technology, infrastructure and climate policy decision making: Transitioning to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and low-carbon electricity". Our latest climate policy brief, "Cap and Trade is Not Enough: Improving U.S. Climate Policy" encourages bold action in addition to cap and trade legislation, including a doubling of CAFE standards with automakers earning credits with PHEVs http://www.epp.cmu.edu/­httpdocs/­Publications/­ClimatePolicy2009.html .

Again, I thank you for all of your hard work and successes with CalCars. It is very important that your readers understand the difference between misinformation, and a scientific study that reports results that may be different than they expected. Together, as a community, we can advance the state of knowledge regarding plug-in hybrids and electrified transportation so that we all can live in a world with sustainable, low-carbon mobility.

CALCARS FINAL COMMENTS: I think CMU's reported perspective has been overly narrow. In looking at the interview with Jeremy MIchalek, I would like to see room in your approach for an acknowledgment that car owners have complex motivations that go beyond cost-benefits -- a point most journalists and auto analysts usually overlook. Tom Turrentine and others at UC Davis have done great academic work in this area. It's important to take into account the symbolic and emotional value motivations to their consumer activities -- and for many people, a car with a larger battery that enables them to "drive green" more is worth much more than the cost-benefit they don't bother to compute. That colors the discussion of what's the best way to achieve broad social objectives.

In addition, we hope to see a continued dialogue about the conclusions presented by Mark Duvall at http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/­mar09/­8409 which do in fact make the case that CMU's quoted comments about the impact of weight, for instance, may be overstated. We know it was not the intention of the study's authors, but this report has been taken in the media as a criticism of the Chevy Volt. While we've often said the 40-mile range of the Volt could have been 20-25 miles rather than 40, that's still much more than 10, and GM has made a strong case for its approach. CalCars-News readers will benefit greatly by reading VP Jon Lauckner's extraordinary response on range, battery pack cost trends, the impact of incentives, and a corporate mea culpa about GM's past short-sightedness in how it measured "cost-effectiveness," at the Fast Lane Blog http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/­archives/­2009/­03/­our_real-world_learnings_differ_from_cmu_study.html , Meanwhile, we thank the CMU team for its continued dedication and scientific approach -- and its tolerance of our mistake.

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