PLUG OK license plate
Transcript: We Look Back and Forward at EAA Annual Meeting
Mar 5, 2010 (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.
Want more? Become a subscriber to CalCars-News:


In addition to being its own organization, CalCars.org is a chapter http://www.eaaev.org/­eaachapters.html of the Electric Auto Association, found at http://www.eaaev.org or the easier to remember http://www.electricauto.org, a 43-year-old international membership organization. Felix Kramer and Ron Gremban have talked and shown our vehicles at EAA's annual meeting since 2004. This year, in Palo Alto Feb. 27, Felix provided a report and update about our progress. You can find that colloquial talk below -- it's a quick read that brings you up to speed on our activities, and it ends with a personal note.

This presentation was accompanied by a few slides, viewable as part of the EAA's combined 2MB PDF for the meeting http://electricauto.org/­files/­AnnualMeeting/­eaa-2010.pdf . In the lightly edited transcript that follows, we include the slide numbers if you want to follow along:

(36) It is really a pleasure to be here and it's really fun to follow Marc (Geller of Plug In America) and all his enthusiasm. I couldn't do better than to just echo what he says. On a personal level, I hope that a year from now, my converted Prius will be a Chevy Volt and my Camry Hybrid will be a Nissan Leaf. I can't wait until that moment comes.

(37) So this really is our year -- we've had a lot of victories. This is a short version of a 20-slide presentation that's at CalCars.org/­downloads -- you can take a look there.

I came to EAA in 2002 for the first time saying, "You've been talking about all-electric vehicles, but let's look at plug-in hybrids." And since then, it's just gotten better and better in terms of the close relationship between the organizations. We got the Keith Cronk Technical Achievement Award in 2004 for converting a Prius. We became a chapter of EAA. We worked very closely with you folks, Plug In America, with Friends of the Earth, VoteSolar, Project Get Ready, and the utilities. We need MORE cooperation among all these groups -- much more, plus information sharing about who's doing what because there's a lot to do and we can all benefit from that.

In October, we declared victory on plug-in hybrids! We wanted to put them on the map and we wanted to get them mass-produced -- and it's happening. There are going to be cars on the road. That doesn't mean we don't have a lot to do, but we were really happy to be able to say, after seven years, "We've won!" A small group of people changed the whole auto industry -- that's an incredible accomplishment.

(38) This is our slide showing the cars http://www.calcars.org/­carmakers.html -- we have a vehicle tracker which focuses only on plug-in hybrids; Plug In America has a great vehicle tracker on all vehicles of all sizes -- both plug-in hybrid and all-electric. There are so many people covering this area now that we don't have to do everything anymore. We used to do CalCars-News once or twice a week and now we do it a couple of times a month. We're really getting there.

You can see what's happening with all of these cars. The Chevy Volt and the Fisker Karma will be the first plug-in hybrids, following the BYD car that's already on sale.

(39) You can start digesting [our market penetration slide] while I talk about a couple of other things. One of them is that I suggest that anyone who is so motivated, Breathe California (the former American Lung Association) has the Clean Air Award coming up on April 16th. Until March 12th, I encourage you to consider nominating EAA, Plug In America or CalCars for that award and you can do that at cleanairawards.org.

So, we won, OK? So what's next? First, we wanted to ensure commercialization, but we wanted to ensure a SUCCESSFUL commercialization. As you all know, we've had unsuccessful commercialization in the past. And that means a lot of work to go on now, which all three organizations have been talking about a lot, to make sure those cars meet people's expectations, that their expectations are calibrated to what they're getting, that the infrastructure is available and that, in general, all resources needed get to those cars.

It's really important to deal with all of the misinformation -- that's a continuing concern of all of us. We did a lot of work over the last month in combating the misinformation by the National Research Council about the prospective cost of batteries. We got some of the battery makers to state in public that their projections for 2020 and 2030 -- the best case projections in this National Research Council's report -- were actually the numbers that they were either experiencing now or expected in the next three or four years. And you'll see some more news from the battery makers coming out about that. Because they need to stand up themselves and say, "this industry is viable right now," and they're not doing enough about that yet.

Then we come to the issue of this slide. We need to accelerate plug-in penetration. I want to encourage EVERYBODY to get this report, the "Electrification Roadmap" from http://www.electrificationcoalition.org . These are the people -- Securing America's Future Energy -- they did the first simulations on what happens if we have oil disruptions. That's the place where famously Jim Woolsey and Chelsea Sexton first met. They've done a tremendous job with this -- if you look at the people, the sponsors. It's a huge document -- ask for it and they'll send you a URL to download it. You can request a print copy.

It is the best report there is in terms of production values, and it also talks about what the most aggressive scenario going to result in, in the next ten years of getting plug-in cars on the road. They state the numbers pretty well and, if you look at them, you'll see they're not good enough. These numbers on our chart here show that plug-in cars are such a small percentage of the fleet of vehicles -- 250 million cars on the road in the U.S. -- that they'll be a TRICKLE for the next 10-15 years with little impact on petroleum reduction, CO2 reduction and energy security.

And that's why we're calling what's next for us "The Big Fix." That means taking existing vehicles, especially the big, heavy-duty vehicles -- pickups, SUVs, vans and so forth -- and converting them to all-electric or plug-in hybrid. This is in the tradition of what we did on the plug-in hybrid conversions, but there we were converting a fuel-sipper into a twice as good car. And if you can take a 10-mile-per-gallon vehicle and make it a 20, you're much better off than taking a 50 and turning it into a 100.

We've been talking about this for about a year or so, and we've come to realize that the advocacy model for it is not going to work -- it's going to take too long. I'll talk a little about that in a few minutes. Basically, I really encourage everybody here to start thinking about this. I'm really glad that Marc talked about it in the context of the Postal Service bill, but the awareness that we actually have to do a lot more with the vehicles on the road -- equivalent to what we're doing with our buildings, fixing them -- is really important. We have been the sole advocates for that perspective so far.

(40) Here's an example -- an F-150, the world's most popular vehicle U.S. for the last 30 years, turned from a 15-mile-per-gallon gasoline car into a vehicle with a 30-mile range, all-electric, and then it becomes a 21-mile-per-gallon hybrid. From HEVT, a small company in Chicago, which needs investors.

(41) REV in Vancouver, converts SUVs into pure-electric vehicles, working with Ford dealers in Canada and making some sales in California. (42) The Rocky Mountain Institute spinoff Bright Automotive, they haven't gotten their federal grant yet, their federal loan yet, so while they wait, they're taking a VW Transporter, a world vehicle not in the U.S., and converting it into a plug-in hybrid. (43) This is everybody's favorite, Neil Young's vehicle, a Lincoln Continental -- in Woodside and Kansas.

On our website we have right on the home page a link to Internal Combustion Engine Conversions http://www.calcars.org/­ice-conversions.html, and we're eager to highlight all of the companies that are doing things about this. That vehicle out in the parking lot with the Capstone turbine -- that's a conversion. If that were a company, we'd like to help them succeed.

That's the end of my presentation, but I just want to talk about a couple of other things. We announced a couple of days ago our search for a serial entrepreneur. To take this to the next level, we need to find somebody to start a company and roll up some of these small companies or get them to cooperate to create a global business opportunity, a global industry. Someone like Shai Agassi, what Shai has done on EVs. I urge you to read that on our website at http://www.calcars.org/­calcars-news/­1093.html or http://www.calcars.org/­calcars-seer.pdf . And if you know any people who meet the bill, you can send them to us and anybody here who thinks they ARE that person or who knows someone, I have a couple of copies of the "Electrification Roadmap." I can give it to you to read and you can pass on to that person so that they can understand this opportunity.

So spread the word on this serial entrepreneur goal. Take a look at BigThink.com http://bigthink.com/­ideas/­18785 for a half-hour conversation, at what's called the "Charlie Rose of the Internet" website, where I talk about our whole perspective on where we go from here. And if you can support CalCars at http://www.calcars.org/­sponsor.html, it would be great.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, for me, I feel like I'm starting to say, "thanks, good bye," ultimately in some ways, because this has been a great experience for me the last seven or eight years. I'm NOT a car person. I lived in Manhattan and didn't own a car for 25 years. And I have loved every minute of what I've been doing here and it's the best thing I've ever done in my life.

There's still a lot to do, but fundamentally what we really have to do -- all of us, as we get to this next stage -- we have to take this lesson and broaden it to the whole world. We have to take every device in the world and run it on electricity and clean the grid. And in vehicles we have to reduce the miles traveled, and we have to find ways to get freight delivered by train instead of by truck.

We have to do all those kinds of things. We have to do a lot of other things like eat less meat. And we have to celebrate our earth and find ways to save it. And the success of the plug-in car movement, we need to make that an inspiration for the world for how people can make a difference in everything they do. So thank you. (Applause)

Copyright 2003-10 California Cars Initiative, an activity of the International Humanities Center | Site Map