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Response to State of the Union: Build "Good-Enough" PHEVs ASAP
Jan 24, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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Please feel free to forward our response to tonight's State of the Union address to individuals and media.

After State of Union: CalCars Urges Building "Good-Enough" Plug-In Hybrids ASAP

CalCars.org and the broad coalition for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) is pleased the President has included PHEVs in his agenda for the second year in a row. Alternative liquid fuels and vehicle efficiency were tonight's State of the Union energy headlines -- but clear plans to build and buy PHEVs were missing.

PHEVs run on clean, cheap, domestic electricity for their first 20-40 miles each day. It's staring us in the face: each plug-in hybrid we put on the road will cut one car's oil addiction by up to 80%.

Right now, in 2007, plug-in hybrids can get into high gear if the President promotes a public-private demonstration fleet running on today's "good-enough-to-get-started" batteries. If car-makers start to build flex-fuel PHEVs now, we'll get the benefit of powering local miles with electricity long before ethanol is widely available. We'll cut the amount of liquid fuels each car needs by 75%, and get a bigger, quicker, greenhouse gas benefit than from flex-fuel vehicles that can't plug in.

We came far in 2006. Seven car-makers now say they're working on PHEVs. GM and Toyota have each said they intend to be first http://www.calcars.org/­carmakers.html. At the same time, having given up every other objection, car-makers are rallying around a delaying strategy, saying, "wait -- the batteries aren't ready."

Making the perfect the enemy of the good is a luxury we can no longer afford. For national security, environmental and economic reasons, it's the end of "business as usual" for our Energy-Transportation System.

In 2007, car-makers can build great PHEVs, using batteries that temporarily cost more and may need replacement sooner than we'd want. We know every "good enough" PHEV car-makers build will find an eager buyer. (I've put 14,000 miles on my PHEV and every elected official and celebrity who takes the wheel loves it http://www.calcars.org/­photos-people.html.) Every year batteries will get better -- while car-makers improve PHEvs. To get to mass production, we need forward thinking, forward pricing, public and private incentives, cooperation from regulators and strategies to push us into economies of scale.

To get there, Congress can pass the bipartisan DRIVE legislation (S.339-Bayh/Brownback introduced Jan. 19) and the parallel House bill sponsored by Engel/Kingston to be introduced Jan. 24). Expanded by Set America Free and others from a bill that got wide support last year, DRIVE is carefully designed to pass and get signed by the President http://www.calcars.org/­calcars-news/­660.html.

Three or five or ten years from now, when car-makers have "fully validated" batteries, we'll be lucky if we can say, "Great timing! Just when we're ready to put them in millions of cars. We're sure glad auto-makers started building thousands of "good-enough" PHEVs in 2007 and tens of thousands in 2008. And how fortunate that once cities, counties and companies got their first PHEVs, they started planning new incentive programs, time-of-use electric rates and new parking programs."

CalCars.org dedicates 2007 to making sure there are more PHEVs on the road. We and others will convert Toyota Priuses and Ford Escape Hybrids. And we hope to pave the way for domestic and international car-makers to add a plug-in option to their existing car lines. We'll build "soft" fleet orders with Plug-In Partners http://www.pluginpartners.org. To develop state and national initiatives and a "No-Worry Fleet" plan that removes the battery warranty as an obstacle, we'll engage with the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Air Resources Board, Energy Commission and Legislature, the Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium <http:/www.hybridconsortium.org>, Plug In America http://www.pluginamerica.com and many others. We hope all who favor replacing petroleum to power the local miles of cars with cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity will join with CalCars.org and our allies.

--Felix Kramer, Founder, The California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org)

P.S. It's important to note that Pres. Bush also cited " the serious challenge of global climate change," We hope this acknowledgment will make possible the enactment of laws that to enable the United States to join the rest of the world in addressing global warming.

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