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GE in PHEVs as 3 US Automakers Get DOE Funds
Jun 13, 2008 (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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US ENERGY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES PROJECTS As part of its growing commitment to PHEV projects, in early 2008 USDOE announced it was soliciting bids for projects that would involve the deployment (not research) of small fleets of PHEVs. We wondered at the time whether the $10-$30M carrots would be enough to attract the large carmakers who were the focus of the RFPs. (See CalCars-News Jan 7 and 24 postings.) Now that the first three contracts have been announced (with more coming next month), we are happy to have been proven wrong, and to find that this new program helps bring more players into the PHEV race.

Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner spoke at a panel at the "Google-Brookings Institution's Plug-In Electric Vehices 2008: What Role for Washington?" (We'll have more on the conference in subsequent postings.) He described how his portfolio had gone from $2M for plug-in hybrids and plug-in technology to $50M for PHEVs and $100 million for related technologies. After his session, he held an informal press conference in an adjacent room where he announced the winners of contracts. All three US automakers are part of consortia getting funds for projects, briefly described in the press release below.

GENERAL ELECTRIC JOINS WITH CHRYSLER: The big news is that GE has become a PHEV partner of Chrysler. For years people from Andy Grove to William McDonough have been saying plug-in cars were a natural for GE -- even as the company sold its electric motors division and moved away from vehicle projects. GE remained in the electric locomotive business and did invest in battery maker A123Systems. The news of this partnership, and reporters' interviews with GE executives (at end of this posting) indicate it may be on its way back to transportation.

CHRYSLER/DAIMLER/TESLA: The new partnership gives a boost to the now privately-owned Chrysler LLC, the one company that doesn't even have a PHEV concept vehicle --until now just the announcement of a plan to develop an electric vehicle division, and a legacy partnership in the DaimlerChrysler Sprinter project before the merged companies split. (In a related, surprising musical chair development, Fox Business News says Tesla and Daimler are negotiating an unspecified partnership­greencaradvisor/­.eea81ae?@914.aTlncvZdWCe@ -- perhaps for technology or for a partnership on Tesla's second car, the WhiteStar, likely to be a PHEV.

DOE GETS FIRST FLEX-FUEL PHEV FORD: Karsner also took the occasion of the press conference to announce the DOE had taken delivery of a flex-fuel Ford Escape Hybrid converted by Ford to a PHEV using Johnson Controls-Saft lithium-ion batteries. He said driving over it was getting 120MPG.

We also note bloggers' comments at Green Car Congress's report,­2008/­06/­doe-announces-3.html saying that the funds are a smal percentage of what's needed, and the time frames mean the projects may be outdistanced by the accelerating PHEV race globally.

DOE Announces $30 Million for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Projects
Adds Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle to Department’s Fleet­news/­6337.htm
June 12, 2008

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner today announced up to $30 million in funding over three years for three cost-shared Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) demonstration and development projects. The selected projects will accelerate the development of PHEVs capable of traveling up to 40 miles without recharging, which includes most daily roundtrip commutes and satisfies 70 percent of the average daily travel in the U. S. The projects will also address critical barriers to achieving DOE’s goal of making PHEVs cost-competitive by 2014 and ready for commercialization by 2016.

“The projects announced today demonstrate a shared public-private sector commitment to advance clean vehicle technologies and will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil while also confronting the serious challenge of global climate change,” DOE Assistant Secretary Andy Karsner said. “The Department remains committed to the research, development and deployment of cleaner, more efficient vehicle options for consumers from laboratory to the street.”

Assistant Secretary Karsner made today’s announcements at the Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington? conference, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and The projects selected will be developed between Fiscal Years 2008-11 and demonstrated in geographically diverse regions to identify performance, operation, and fuel economy in a real-world environment. The goal is to develop PHEVs that can be mass produced, compete effectively in the marketplace, and substantially reduce petroleum consumption by offering fuel flexibility to American consumers. DOE’s funding for these projects, which is subject to Congressional appropriations, will be combined with an industry cost share of 50 percent.

In addition to announced projects, DOE expanded its own fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles with the addition of a Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid Flex-Fuel Vehicle, capable of running on E85, 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline. This vehicle demonstrates the capacity of flexible fuel technology to reduce petroleum use to almost zero. This Ford Escape flexible fuel PHEV when refueling only on cellulosic E85 or electricity would consume less than 75 gallons of gasoline per year – the equivalent of over 150 mpg - and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 93 percent. The Department’s new Ford Escape will be used to transport DOE employees to official events and meetings in the Washington, D.C. area.

PHEVs are hybrid vehicles that can be driven in electric-only or hybrid modes and recharged from a standard electric outlet. They offer increased energy efficiency and decreased petroleum consumption by using electricity as the primary fuel for urban driving. This is the first round of selections under DOE’s PHEV Technology Acceleration and Deployment Activity funding opportunity announcement. A second round of applications is due July 18, 2008. The following three projects were selected:

General Motors has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project aimed at enhancement of Lithium-Ion battery packs, charging systems, powertrain development, vehicle integration, and vehicle validation. Following development, the PHEVs will be deployed over a three year period into a demonstration fleet in three regions of the U.S. Other team members include Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Ford Motor Company has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project to identify a pathway that accelerates commercial mass-production of PHEVs. The project will focus on development of battery systems and deployment of prototype PHEVs. The project will test and demonstrate the propulsion system design, controls, and communications necessary to develop a viable PHEV production program. Team members include Southern California Edison, Electric Power Research Institute, and Johnson Controls-Saft, Inc.

General Electric has been selected for negotiation of an award for a demonstration of PHEVs that relies upon an innovative dual-battery energy storage system capable of 40 miles accumulated electric driving range. The project will focus on developing the dual-battery energy storage system in parallel with vehicle integration. GE is partnering with Chrysler for this project.

GE teams with Chrysler on plug-in hybrid system Automotive News
by Harry Stoffer
June 12, 2008­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20080612/­FREE/­526009316/­1506/­

General Electric is interested in supplying components for plug-in hybrid vehicles and is teaming with Chrysler on a project to demonstrate a technology GE calls a dual-battery energy storage system.

Vlatko Vlatkovic, a GE official, told Automotive News today that the company has developed a hybrid railroad locomotive -- which he compared to a "6,000-horsepower Prius on rails" -- and is working on a heavy-duty, off-highway hybrid truck.

"A lot of these technologies are really synergistic to what the automotives need, and we can work together with the automotives in partnership to see how we can advance these technologies further," he said.

Vlatkovic is global technology leader of electronics and energy conversion at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, N.Y.

He called the automotive sector for GE "a new space that we are convinced will grow." GE can offer expertise in batteries, drivetrains and power electronic controls, he added.

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli is a former GE executive.

Plug-in hybrid power suddenly is the most
talked-about advanced vehicle technology. This
week, it was the subject of a major Washington conference.


A tie with deep-pocketed GE would appear to give
Chrysler LLC a boost in the race.


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