Aug 22, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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This initiative has just launched, including a new website at http://www.pluginaustin.org
I'm told this morning's press conference included the Austin Mayor, City Council and County Commission members, U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett, head of the Chamber of Commerce and many others.
This effort makes more concrete what CalCars and so many others are doing. It helps create a path to what economists call "commercialization" -- the ready availability of products on the market.
- One important city is going all out to promote PHEVs, including a $1M fund for incentives to individual and corporate purchasers. This combines with actions from companies like Hyperion Solutions, Timberland and others that are providing employee benefits to hybrid buyers -- not yet to PHEV buyers because there are no production PHEVs! (See links to these companies way down on the page http://www.calcars.org/kudos.html in the Commercialization section.
- Austin Energy is spearheading a promising national campaign to gain local support and fleet purchase commitments from the nation's 50 largest cities. We hope this will tie in to the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/mayor/climate/ initiated by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and already endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors and 175 individual cities. (This group's agenda was set before the recent increase in awareness of plug-in hybrids, but we hope it will be included in future policy recommendations.)
Here's the press release and the first news story:
For Immediate Release
August 22, 2005
Contact: Ed Clark, Austin Energy
Austin kicks off Plug-In Hybrid campaign Unveils model for national campaign
The City of Austin today, August 22, 2005, officially launched "Plug-In Austin," a community-wide campaign to promote the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Plug-ins would combine today's new gas-electric hybrid technology with a larger battery that could be recharged by plugging it into a standard wall socket. The battery would be sufficient to meet every day commuting needs that could reduce annual gasoline consumption for many Americans by as much as 70 percent.
The Austin plan, viewed as a model that will be used by communities across the country, includes:
- An Austin City Council resolution supporting the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- Local seed money from electric utilities (Austin Energy will provide $1 million) to help local governments, businesses and the public purchase an initial round of plug-ins.
- Commitments for fleet orders by the City of Austin, Travis County, other local governmental agencies and businesses.
- A grassroots petition drive to collect signatures from citizens encouraging automakers to mass-produce plug-in hybrids
"Plug-in hybrids can help significantly address two very serious problems facing communities and our country," said Mayor Will Wynn. "The over-reliance of America on oil imports and the need to improve air quality in our cities by reducing pollution from automobiles."
The appeal of plug-in vehicles is underscored by the fact that 78 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of their jobs. A battery pack sufficient to power a vehicle a distance of 35 miles on a charge would mean a majority of Americans would likely need to fill up with gasoline only once or twice a month. In addition, an "electric" gallon of gas would cost 70 to 80 cents at prevailing electric rates. A plug-in hybrid that gets 25 miles on a gallon of $2.55-national-average gasoline could travel more than 100 miles on $2.55 worth of "electric" gallons of energy.
"This is an economic stability initiative," noted Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe. "Escalating fuel prices are hurting everyone. They hinder our ability to deliver services and drive up the cost of all goods. They create tremendous hardship on businesses and households operating on small margins."
Prototype plug-in hybrids are being tested today as popular models of today's standard hybrid are being converted into plug-ins with excellent results. Next year, Austin will join some 10 other cities across the country to test a prototype plug-in hybrid Sprinter Van built by DaimlerChrysler, the only automaker currently considering the full production of plug-ins.
"The advanced battery technology needed for a plug-in is being produced right here in Austin by Valence Technology," said Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Chair Kirk Watson. "The positives that would flow from the production of plug-in hybrids in terms of economics and air quality are huge. Plus plug-ins represent a new revenue stream for electric utilities that would keep dollars in our communities rather than sending them to foreign countries."
A key component of the Plug-In Austin campaign will be a petition drive. Austin environmental, civic and business groups will circulate petitions with the goal of collecting at least 10,000 signatures by December. To sign the petition and get additional information on the Plug-In Austin initiative, visit www.pluginaustin.org.
Naturally, a key to the plug-in hybrid equation will be cost. Studies by the Electric Power Institute (EPRI) indicate that after considering the lower costs of fuel and maintenance, a mass-produced plug-in hybrid should provide better overall economics than either a hybrid or a conventional vehicle.
The mass production of plug-in hybrids is widely supported by environmental groups such as Environmental Defense and by a long list of national security policy groups such as Set America Free which includes former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Secretary of State George Schultz.
11:15 AM CDT on Monday, August 22, 2005 KVUE.com
The City of Austin kicked off a major campaign Monday to promote the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Austin city leaders say batteries in the plug-in vehicles would drastically reduce gasoline consumption -- some estimate it would reduce gas use by as much as 70 percent.
"Plug-in hybrids can help significantly address two very serious problems facing communities and our country," Mayor Will Wynn stated in a press release. "The over-reliance of America on oil imports and the need to improve air quality in our cities by reducing pollution from automobiles."
Plug-in hybrid vehicles combine gas-electric technology with a larger battery that can be recharged in a standard wall socket. The vehicles that use this technology are not in full production, currently, and only one automaker, DaimlerChrysler, is even considering full production of such a vehicle.
The City of Austin campaign is expected to be a model used by other communities across the country. The promotion includes:
- An Austin City Council resolution to support mass-production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- Local seed money from electric utilities to help local governments, businesses and the public make the initial transition to the hybrids. Austin Energy officials have committed to provide $1 million.
- Commitments by the city, Travis County and other governmental agencies to order plug-ins for their fleets of vehicles.
- A citizen petition drive to encourage automakers to mass-produce the plug-ins.
Valence Technology of Austin is already testing proto-type plug-in hybrids by converting standard hybrids to use a new Saphion Lithium Ion battery. Company officials say the battery has significantly boosted fuel-efficiency in tests, and gas mileage increased to 125 to 150 miles per gallon.
Next year, the City of Austin will join 10 other cities to test DaimlerChrysler's Sprinter Van, which is a prototype plug-in hybrid. Officials say that 78 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of their jobs. With a battery pack that could power a vehicle to travel 35 miles on a charge, most people would only need to fill up with gasoline once or twice a month.
"This is an economic stability initiative," stated Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe. "Escalating fuel prices are hurting everyone. They hinder our ability to deliver services and drive up the cost of all goods. They create tremendous hardships on businesses and households operating on small margins."
For more information on the Plug-In Austin campaign, http://www.pluginaustin.org