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New PHEV fans: David Cole/Gun Owners/Robert Samuelson
Aug 17, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Here are several favorable mentions of PHEVs that will interest diverse audiences..

Two from Michelle Krebs, a veteran auto analyst for 25 years for The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press, Parade, Motor Trend and AutoWeek and Automotive News, former president of the Automotive Press Association. She now writes for Inside Line and the Auto Observer at (the largest online automotive site), and has begun paying attention to PHEVs, and she has identified some new sources of support. Here are two very distinct examples:

Former CIA Director James Woolsey calls the diverse interests lining up behind PHEVs the "coalition between the tree-huggers, the do-gooders, the sod-busters, the cheap hawks, and the evangelicals, utility shareholders, mom and pop drivers, and Willie Nelson." Add to that group National Rifle Association members: Krebs just unearthed a discussion going on at a gun-owners' website. Start with her Aug. 13 column, "Chevrolet Volt Generates Buzz From Gun Owners"­/2007­/08­/chevrolet-volt-.html then go to "Home of the Black Rifle"­/forums­/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=607518 . We wish we had time to read through and join in on the five pages (so far) of discussions!

Krebs' August 10 Auto Observer column, Chevy Volt: The Machine That Changes the World?­/2007­/08­/chevy-volt-the-.html describes a an event that followed the GM Bob Lutz briefing we recently reported on at­/calcars-news­/819.html . GM executives and Ric Fulop of A123Systems talked about the future at a dinner hosted by the sponsor of the Traverse City conference: emminent auto analyst David Cole, Ph.D., chairman for the Center of Automotive Research. The whole story is well worth reading; here's a highlight:

By evenings end, Cole, whos privy to lots of inside information at all the auto companies and has served on boards of technical companies, said he was now very optimistic about the future prospects for the Volt and subsequent GM electrified vehicles. "This is the game changer" unlike anything he'd seen in his long automotive career, he said.

Washington Post and Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson is also quite influential. We introduced him to PHEVs at a Washington event in 2005, and he's now written about them twice in the past month, both times pointing to them as rays of hope that he still doesn't see as commercially viable. In the first, he counterposes them to what he sees as symbolic small steps that will have little environmental impact. In the second, he basically says that we still don't have enough viable solutions to meet the challenge of global warming; along the way, he suggests more battery research for PHEVs. (The second column has generated a storm of angry responses; here's a sample "J'Accuse" blog:­/ or search online for Samuelson global warming.) His qualified support is still very encouraging, and we're continuing to work to bring him and others along. Here are the excerpts:

The Make-Believe of Green Politics
Driving a hybrid car makes a big lifestyle statement, but is really helping to save the planet?
By Robert J. Samuelson
Newsweek July 25, 2007­/gid­/19953801­/site­/newsweek­/

The Prius is, I think, a parable for the broader politics of global warming. Prius politics is mostly about showing off, not curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. Politicians pander to "green" constituents who want to feel good about themselves. Grandiose goals are declared. But measures to achieve them are deferredor don't exist.
Just to hold greenhouse-gas emissions steady will require massive gains in efficiency or shifts to nonfossil fuels. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that, under present trends, worldwide energy use will have risen 45 percent from 2003 to 2020. China will have accounted for a third of the increase, all developing countries for four fifths. Even after assuming huge improvements in energy efficiency (better light bulbs, etc.), McKinsey still projects an increase of 13 percent in global energy demand.
Deep reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases might someday occur if both plug-in hybrid vehicles and underground storage of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants become commercially viable. Meanwhile, Prius politics is a delusional exercise in public relations that, while not helping the environment, might hurt the economy.

Judgment Calls Greenhouse Simplicities The Tyranny of the Capital Markets
By Robert J. Samuelson
Newsweek Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue­/gid­/20226462­/site­/newsweek­/
Washington Post August 15­/gwp-dyn­/content­/article­/2007­/08­/14­/AR2007081401331.html

We in the news business often enlist in moral crusades. Global warming is among the latest. Unfortunately, self-righteous indignation can undermine good journalism. Last week's NEWSWEEK cover story on global warming is a sobering reminder. It's an object lesson of how viewing the world as "good guys vs. bad guys" can lead to a vast oversimplification of a messy story. Global warming has clearly occurred; the hard question is what to do about it.
What to do about global warming is a quandary. Certainly, more research and development. Advances in underground storage of carbon dioxide, battery technology (for plug-in hybrid cars), biomass or nuclear power could alter energy economics. To cut oil imports, I support a higher gasoline tax$1 to $2 a gallon, introduced graduallyand higher fuel-economy standards for vehicles. These steps would also temper greenhouse-gas emissions. Drilling for more domestic natural gas (a low-emission fuel) would make sense. One test of greenhouse proposals: are they worth doing on other grounds?

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