May 10, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This feature article is a parallel to our report on the conference at http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/calcars-news/message/42
Following are excerpts form EVWorld's Premium-Member coverage of the event (we urge you subscribe at $29/year--it's well worth the cost, and we need to support the best coverage there is of advanced technology automobile industry):
Energy Urgency Pervades Clean Cities Conference
EV World attends the 11th National Clean Cities Conference and discovers the way and the will to move beyond oil. May 09, 2005
Debut of Electric Plug-In Hybrid
Energy CS was on hand with the second iteration of their electric plug-in Toyota Prius. They, along with Clean Tech, a Southern California alt fuels conversion house, announced the creation of E-Drive Systems, a new joint venture to manufacture and market a retrofit kit to convert the newest generation of Priuses to run faster and further on electric power provided by $15,000 worth of Valence Saphion(tm) lithium ion batteries. (See our upcoming audio interview with the Energy CS founders as we drive around Palm Springs in electric-only mode).
What is significant about Energy CS' efforts and those of CalCars.Org founder, Felix Kramer, who was also on-hand to help promote the concept, is that it may well be one of those technologies that's at the right place at the right moment in history. Four of the most vocal proponents within the national security community and utility industry made up one of the panels talking about ways to reduce America's dependence on imported oil.
Gal Luft and Anne Korin are the co-founders of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. All three are signatories to the Set America Free initiative, a significant focus of which is the call for flexible fuel, electric plug-in hybrids; the fusion of two distinct technologies on display during the conference. Bob Graham, who also spoke on the "Developing a Global Energy Security Strategy" panel has helped lead the electric hybrid efforts at the Electric Power Research Institute.
However, not everyone is enamored by the notion of electric hybrids. American Honda's chief engineer, Ben Knight challenged Ms. Korin's views, arguing that since half of North America's electrical grid is powered by coal, any local environmental benefit offered by plug-in hybrids would be lost by the increased combustion of coal.
EPRI's Bob Graham and SCE's Ed Kjaer countered by saying that it will take millions of plug-in hybrids on the road before we'd see any potential increase in pollution, largely because electric hybrids would be charged at night using spare electric utility generating capacity. And when we do need to add new capacity, it will likely come from far cleaner coal technologies, nuclear power and renewables like wind and solar, the two men asserted.
Clearly the debate over the environmental merit of electric hybrids isn't over, but given that Energy CS's Prius got better than 160 mpg while driving around Palm Springs, it pretty well puts to rest any doubts about its national security benefits.