Oct 17, 2009 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Third of three catch-up postings. POLICY: The ability of plug-ins to claim 100+ MPG continues to raise questions for raters and measurers; White House Executive Order will bring changes in federal fleet; Canadian Plug-In Roadmap; three-wheeled plug-ins may be eligible for federal loans; France's spending for plug-ins; back and forth on fuel cells vs. batteries. MEDIA: Lester Brown's Plan B 4.0 published; GM/CalCars webchat is online; Wikipedia's entries on PHEVs; stories at NY Times, Gas2.org, EVWorld.com.
MPG CLAIMS BY CARMAKERS continue to be discussed broadly. National Journal and NY Times stories discuss the role and perspective of different government agencies http://energytopic.nationaljournal.com/2009/09/electric-cars-advance-sticker.php. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/epa-says-mpg-for-electric-cars-and-plug-in-hybrids-are-a-work-in-progress/ At Green Car Congress, read what the national labs are doing: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/09/nrel-phev-20090929.html . Here's the comment we provided in response to multiple inquiries: "Right now we have three relevant information sources: carmakers' fleet MPG (CAFE), vehicle sticker displays (EPA), and real-time/cumulative displays (in car). It's important that all three in some way convey fuels used, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs/mile. Each is a major challenge to get right, and will require cooperation between industry, government, and consumers."
EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SUSTAINABILITY: FEDERAL LEADERSHIP IN FIXING
GOVERNMENT FACILITIES: On Oct. 5, President Obama signed an Executive Order committing the government that includes a 30% reduction in federal fleet petroleum use by 2020, applying to the 600,000 vehicles in the federal fleet. This should be achievable with a combination of purchases of new plug-in vehicles and conversion of many large vehicles. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-signs-an-Executive-Order-Focused-on-Federal-Leadership-in-Environmental-Energy-and-Economic-Performance/
EV TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP FOR CANADA/CALCARS PRESENTATION: A highlight of the recent Montreal PHEV'09 Conference http://www.emc-mec.ca/phev/en/home_en.html was the release of the "Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap" by a multi-stakeholder Industry Steering Committee (funded by the Canadian government to deliver recommendations), under the auspices of Electric Mobility Canada. http://www.emc-mec.ca/content/technology-roadmap The Roadmap identified 21 strategic directions to get 500,000 PHEVs and EVs in Canada by 2018. Notably included were conversions -- suggesting the development of "Harmonized standards for the conversion of used vehicles to electrical traction" and technical courses on "the conversion of ICE-based vehicles to EVs." The executive summary is available now; the full report will soon be available, at http://www.emc-mec.ca/files/EMC-TechnologyRoadmap2009.pdf . At the conference, we made the case for broad inclusion of gas-guzzler conversions in Canada's plans, as well as in the Ontario's C$10K rebate and Quebec's C$4K credit for plug-ins. To see our perspective, view or download our 23-slide presentation and listen to the 20-minute audio or, if you prefer, read the accompanying transcript, all at Past Events at http://www.calcars.org/events.html .
THREE-WHEELERS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR US LOANS: The Senate has approved an amendment to make "ultra-efficient" three-wheelers that can carry two passengers eligible for Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loans (the pre-stimulus 2007 program is lending almost $10B to big carmakers as well as Tesla and Fisker). A House version already passed. Aptera gets much of the credit for pushing this through; its first vehicle is the 2e EV and second will be a PHEV, and it hopes to get OK'd for $75M. http://earth2tech.com/2009/10/16/door-opens-for-aptera-3-wheelers-to-grab-doe-green-car-funds/
FRANCE BUDGETS BILLIONS FOR CHARGING NETWORK: The French government will spend $2.2B on a battery-charging network; will require charging in new apartment buildings by 2012 and in office parking lots by 2015. At the same time, Renault and Nissan said they will spend $6B in development EV technology. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125439947906756021.html
MORE ON FUEL CELLS VS. BATTERIES: After hydrogen advocates succeeded in reinstating some US Energy Department funds following Secretary Chu's attempt to cut all but research funds, the debate revives. Longtime hydrogen advocate Terry Tamminen, whose views still carry some weight with California Gov. Schwarzenegger, resumed his criticisms of plug-in vehicles. See our critique (including links to a response by Plug In America's Paul Scott), at http://evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=21877 , it's also back-to-back with Tamminen's comments at http://www.matternetwork.com/2009/10/ev-ev-question-debate.cfm And it ran with a long introduction by Joseph Romm, at http://climateprogress.org/2009/10/12/2009/10/06/climate-and-hydrogen-car-advocate-gets-almost-everything-wrong-about-plug-in-cars/ (By the way TIME Magazine in September gave author and former DOE official Romm well-deserved recognition as one of the "Heroes of the Environment 2009" -- here's the profile by Bryan Walsh http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1924149_1924153_1924209,00.html and here's Romm writing about it http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/27/time-magazine-names-joe-romm-one-of-the-heroes-of-the-environment-2009/ .)
LESTER BROWN'S PLAN B 4.0 BOOK IS AVAILABLE: See http://www.calcars.org/books to order this fourth version of his acclaimed plan for a global transition, focusing especially on food and water, and including much discussion of the integration of wind power and plug-in hybrids. See a review at http://climateprogress.org/2009/10/13/lester-brown-new-book-plan-b-4-0-mobilizing-to-save-civilization/
WEBCHAT WITH GM'S TONY POSAWATZ AND CALCARS' FELIX KRAMER attracted over 100 questions; we had time to answer 24. It's viewable at multiple locations. We're not simply showing this list to make it convenient for you to read it but to demonstrate the increasing sharing of information and links among the leading plug-in media outlets; we and others hope to propose future cooperative efforts: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/archives/2009/10/webchat_making_electric_vehicles_attractive_to_consumers.html http://www.chevroletvoltage.com/index.php/Blog/live-chat-with-felix-kramer-of-calcars-and-tony-posawatz.html http://green.autoblog.com/2009/10/16/webchat-with-tony-posawatz-and-felix-kramer-friday-12-30pm-est/ http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/10/kramer-20091015.html#more http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2009/10/gm-calcars-invite-you-to-participate-in-plug-in-hybrid-webcast-today.html and at http://www.evworld.com and http://www.matternetwork.com
WIKIPEDIA ENTRIES ON PLUG-INS: If you haven't ever thought of doing it, you can look at long plug-in entries in the "pages" of this open-source encyclopedia. And of course, you can track the history of modifications, compare versions, and add your own changes. Start at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_hybrid and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_plug-in_hybrids . You can also find many entries relating to EVs, and listings for CalCars, Plug In America, Andrew A. Frank, Felix Kramer and others.
BREATH OF FRESH AIR COUNTERS ERRORS: With the ever-growing misinformation and disinformation on green topics, we're so happy when journalists get it right. With trepidation, we started reading a story called ""Study: Electric Cars Produce 30% More Emissions Than Ethanol Cars," contending that corn-derived E85 beats electricity in lifetime CO2 emissions. We found that Nick Chambers, editor of Gas2.org (who has a scientific/technical background), had analyzed the numbers and shown the flaws in the analysis. http://gas2.org/2009/10/14/study-electric-cars-produce-30-more-emissions-than-ethanol-cars/#more-3796 At the AutoBlogGreen report, comments provided the corrections: http://green.autoblog.com/2009/10/16/does-a-corn-ethanol-vehicle-beat-the-tesla-roadster-in-lifetime/ . Since it's the weekend, we can't resist suggesting that for a very effective take on journalists choosing to avoid pointing out misinformation, see the Daily Show's skewering of CNN from Oct. 12 at http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/251761/mon-october-12-2009-janet-napolitano .
Another view on ethanol vs. electricity, raised from time to time but still getting little attention: ethanol burned in central power generation facilities that power plug-in cars benefits from much higher efficiencies and may be a better strategy than burning it in internal combustion engines. One report suggests burning it in "combined heat and power" facilities that recapture and re-use the heat and take plug-in vehicles nine miles for each ethanol-fueled ICE mile http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/07/chp-electricity-powers-cars-22-times-farther-than-ethanol.
PLUG-IN CARS WERE FRONT-PAGE NEWS at The New York Times when the editors decided the most important issue is the danger of "too-quiet" vehicles. We hope this means their other benefits are so well accepted that we just have to address a few minor problems. The story, " Hybrid Cars May Include Fake Vroom for Safety" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/automobiles/14hybrid.html attracted 243 comments from people who have lots of time on their hands, and the companion blog, "Could Electric Cars Sound Like 'Blade Runner?'" http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/could-electric-cars-sound-like-blade-runner/ added 43 more. Author Jim Motavalli also pointed to Chelsea Sexton's blog, whose zingers put the entire issue back where it belongs http://evchels.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/blind-leading-the-blind .
THOMAS FRIEDMAN ON GAS TAX: Periodically, this NY Times columnist returns to cleantech themes; in the past weeks he's written "Have a Nice Day" on the opportunity for US solar manufacturing and on "The New Sputnik" on China's leaps forward in green products. (Find his past columns at http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/thomaslfriedman/index.html ; we often don't see eye to eye with him on foreign policy.) He never gives up on the gas tax, and his Sept. 20 column, "Real Men Tax Gas," is very well done: we're tough enough to send troops to fight, but not to address our oil dependence by taxing oil. " Who are the real cheese-eating surrender monkeys?" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20friedman.html . And HybridCars.com also sees some willing to dare to raise the unmentionable concept: http://www.hybridcars.com/incentives-laws/budget-shortfalls-gas-tax-discussion-re-emerges-26165.html
EVWORLD'S EDITOR GETS HIS FIRST PLUG-IN CAR: Bill Moore gets a Prius retrofit by Plug-In Conversions Corp, converted in Omaha, NE, with the help of auto mechanics students from Metropolitan Community College http://www.omaha.com/article/20091009/MONEY/710099976 In his column at EVWorld.com, Moore happily plans to provide further updates.