May 5, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Congress Should Transition U.S. Postal Fleet to Plug-In Hybrids
Austin, TX- May 4, 2006-A nationwide grassroots coalition promoting the mass production of a flex-fuel plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle is calling on Congress to provide incentives sufficient to transition the U.S. Postal fleet to plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Postal Service utilizes approximately 210,000 vehicles nationwide that travel 1.2 billion miles a year consuming an estimated 106-million gallons of gasoline.
"Transitioning the Postal fleet to plug-ins would serve as a springboard for the commercial production of delivery vehicles that could be extended to a wide variety of delivery services across America," says Austin Mayor Will Wynn, whose city leads the nationwide plug-in campaign now joined by over 20 major cities. "The commercial market would also provide the economic certainty needed by automakers to make the production investments necessary for the mass production of plug-ins."
Wynn called for the Congressional action during a press conference held today at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) underway in Austin. "The WCIT is staged each year to show off new technology and to foster technology advancement," Wynn notes. "The plug-in technology is available right now and represents a realistic near-term solution to the serious problems of over-reliance on foreign oil, out of control gasoline prices as well as greenhouse emissions."
The Plug-In Partners National Campaign kicked off January 24, 2006 during a Washington D.C. press conference. Since then some 20 cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, 25 national organizations and over 130 electric utilities have joined in the campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) would combine today's new gas-electric hybrid technology with larger batteries which provide an all-electric operating range of 25 to 35 miles or more. The result is an 80+ mile-per-gallon vehicle - with even greater fuel economy possible utilizing bio-fuels.
Plug-ins could be recharged by plugging into a standard wall socket, delivering "electric" gallons of gas for under $1 a gallon at prevailing electric rates. This vehicle could reduce gasoline consumption for the average American by 50 percent to 70 percent.
"Nothing has to be invented to produce a plug-in hybrid vehicle," says Dr. Andrew Frank, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of California at Davis and Director of the UCD Hybrid Electric Research Center. "Everything needed is available: the power trains, the gasoline engines, the computer systems, electric motors and batteries. All we need is for one of the large auto manufacturers to step up to the plate."
Last year, U.S. consumers purchased more than 200,000 hybrid vehicles, which have grown from two models in 2000 to 11 models today. Hybrid sales are projected to triple over the next six years, as more Americans demonstrate their desire for better fuel economy and lower emissions. According to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), half the cars in the U.S. are driven just 25 miles a day or less. "A plug-in vehicle with even a 20-mile range could reduce petroleum fuel consumption by about 60 percent," says Bob Graham, Manager of EPRI's Electric Transmission program.
EPRI has teamed with DaimlerChrysler AG of Stuttgart, Germany, to design and build a plug-in prototype van that will be tested in some 40 American cities over the next year. The vans, which have a 20-mile all-electric range, will be outfitted with either nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries or lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries. The cost, reliability and weight of batteries are often cited by automotive industry experts as one of the stumbling blocks to the mass production of plug-ins.
A number of leading energy efficiency and environmental organizations also support plug-in vehicles as important to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming. Plug-in Partner Coalition members include: Alliance to Save Energy, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Clean Air Coalition, California Cars Initiative, and The Institute for Environmental Research and Education.
"Even drawing from our existing power plants, plug-in vehicles have the potential to cut a vehicle's petroleum consumption by three-fourths or more, can operate at as little as one-fourth the fuel cost, and reduce greenhouse gases by two-thirds," said Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. "As we increasingly turn to alternative technologies to improve the fuel economy of our vehicles, we will see increasing benefits to our economy, our environment, and our national security."
News and information regarding the nationwide Plug-In Partners campaign will be chronicled at http://www.pluginpartners.org which will include summary reports on the results of petition drives, "soft orders" and development of community incentives programs. -end-
CONTACT: Ed Clark, Austin Energy: 512-322-6514 May 4, 2006
Frank Walter, Plug-in Partners: 202-271-7727 Plug-in Partners Coalition: Roger Duncan, 512-322-6157, roger.duncan@... Daryl Slusher, 512-322-6210, daryl.slusher@... Lisa Braithwaite, 512-322-6511, lisa.braithwaite@...