In 2004 we began a chronological list of news about PHEVs and CalCars. In late 2005, we gave up because the frequency of news got too high. See the News Archive for 2005-current news. And see Downloads for PDFs of recent significant articles.
|Our Favorite Stories|
Running On Empty (subscription) | Our newsletter version; Printable PDF (1.6MB)|
Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine cover story, July 17, 2005
By Dan Neil, Pulitzer Prize-winning auto critic
PHEV, a technology that might just represent one of the most dramatic advances in fuel stretching since the Pennsylvania oil fields. And not a minute too soon....Former Secretary of State George Shultz and former CIA director R. James Woolsey... wrote in a policy paper last year: ... What are we waiting for?"... The idea that PHEVs can be built from off-the-shelf parts has become something of an orthodoxy....
Not so fast, says Dave Hermance, an executive engineer of Toyota... "The betting line of developers is that a lithium-ion battery of sufficient cost, durability and safety is three to five years away."... The guerrilla interest in PHEVs puts Toyota in an unfamiliar posture: on the defensive. "We're getting a lot of pressure from the public," says Cindy Knight, a company spokesperson. "We've shown that we have the energy chops to do it, so people say, 'Why don't we do it?'"...
CalCars is a nonprofit PHEV advocacy group that acts as a networking hub for engineers, investors and entrepreneurs ...."Our first goal is to make PHEVs a contender in the national policy debate arena," says Kramer. Mission accomplished. In late June, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama offered an amendment to the Senate energy bill that would encourage PHEV development ....
Road test update: I've driven my daily route to the office and back: 11.8 miles round trip on mostly surface streets. I don't baby the throttle particularly, and the gas engine kicks in several times as I accelerate with traffic and motor up hills. Mileage: 122 mpg. So, if I were to use the Prius PHEV as my sole commuting vehicle, I would have to fill up once every 22 weeks, or once every 5 1/2 months....
Kramer may well underestimate the PHEV's technical challenges, but all sides agree that advances in battery technology are much closer than fuel-cell cars .... Using the power grid to charge automobiles strikes many as bad public policy, since coal, the dirtiest fuel, generates about 60% of America's electricity. And yet, in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, grid-charged cars are still cleaner than their gasoline-powered counterparts, and that's particularly true in California, where we rely largely on natural gas to make electricity.
Road test update: My wife and I have been driving around Los Angeles for hours, desperately trying to use up 1 gallon of gasoline ....Total mileage is 73.98 miles. For the first 44.6 miles -- the electrically boosted range -- I got 144 mpg and used 7.092 kWh. That's about 68 cents worth of electricity and $2.50 worth of gasoline. I can't be sure if plug-in hybrids will work for everybody, but 4 cents a mile works for me.
Plug In to New Hybrid Concepts | Our newsletter version|
Toronto Star, August 1, 2005
By Tyler Hamilton
There's a vibrant debate going on south of the border that's hardly being heard in our neck of the woods....The question is whether today's hybrid cars can be substantially improved over a relatively short period through further crossbreeding, to the point where the massive investments we're seeing in fuel-cell vehicle development and commercialization, as well as the associated infrastructure changes needed to support it, begin to make little sense....
What if, instead of using gasoline to fuel the internal combustion engine component of a hybrid, domestically produced biodiesel or ethanol-blended fuels became the dominant and cleaner-burning option?...Unexpectedly, some U.S. Democrats and Republicans have become united in the view that building such a superior hybrid is an issue of national security and deserves the highest of priority.
Publicly, most automakers are ducking the issue and emphasizing potential pitfalls of building hybrid cars with plugs, but pressure is mounting behind the scenes to give the idea some life...."Such development should have the highest research and development priority because it promises to revolutionize transportation economics and to have a dramatic effect on the problems caused by oil dependence," write George Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state, and James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in a June position paper on oil and U.S. national security....They argue that battery development for plug-in hybrids "should for the time being replace the current research and development emphasis on automotive hydrogen fuel cells."
... a feisty group of rogue Prius owners has taken the technology into their own hands, by essentially "hacking" into their vehicle systems and modifying the cars into plug-in models...It comes at a considerable cost, but for them the message is important: It can be done, and with mass production it can also be affordable...."Toyota's engineering of the system means it's not impossible to get to this second stage," says Felix Kramer, founder of the California Cars Initiative, whose sole mandate at the moment is to raise awareness of plug-in hybrids and to spur Toyota and other automakers into supporting it....Talking to Kramer, plug-in hybrids seem like a no-brainer.
As lithium-ion technology gets better, lighter, more efficient and cheaper, companies such as Valence, Toshiba Corp. of Japan and Mississauga-based Electrovaya Inc. have set their sights on the plug-in hybrid market. Valence has already modified a Prius....Marc Kohler, business development manager for Valence's vehicle systems program, says the major automakers appear to be acting disinterested, but it's not the full picture...."Publicly they have to say one thing, but R&D guys are actively researching it," says Kohler, pointing out that high oil prices, national security issues, the fact that the technology is available, and the slow progress of fuel-cell cars has created an ideal environment for pursuing plug-in hybrids.
As Toyota Goes... (subscription) | Our newsletter version; Printable PDF (400KB)
The New York Times, June 17, 2005
By Thomas R. Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
Right now Toyota does not sell plug-in hybrids. Some enthusiasts, though, are using kits to convert their hybrids to plug-ins, but that adds several thousand dollars - and you lose your Toyota warranty. Imagine, though, if the government encouraged, through tax policy and other incentives, every automaker to offer plug-in hybrids? We would quickly move down the innovation curve and end up with better and cheaper plug-ins for all.
Then add to that flexible-fuel cars, which have a special chip and fuel line that enable them to burn alcohol (ethanol or methanol), gasoline or any mixture of the two. Some four million U.S. cars already come equipped this way, including from G.M. It costs only about $100 a car to make it flex-fuel ready. Brazil hopes to have all its new cars flex-fuel ready by 2008. As Luft notes, if you combined a plug-in hybrid system with a flex-fuel system that burns 80 percent alcohol and 20 percent gasoline, you could end up stretching each gallon of gasoline up to 500 miles.
In short, we don't need to reinvent the wheel or wait for sci-fi hydrogen fuel cells. The technologies we need for a stronger, more energy independent America are already here. The only thing we have a shortage of now are leaders with the imagination and will to move the country onto a geo-green path.
Breakting That Dirty Oil Habit... | Our newsletter version; Printable PDF (3.2MB)
TIME Magazine, Inside Business, July 2005
By Unmesh Kher, with Marc Hequet/St. Paul, Kristin Kloberdanz/Hopkinsville, Jeffrey Resner/L.A.
A 500-m.p.g.-of-gas car may sound like a pie-in-the-sky dream. But in fact, it is technologically possible. Green-car enthusiasts in California are experimenting with innovative plug-in technology, while DaimlerChrysler will soon be testing its own plug-in van....Could it be that the motley coalition of tree huggers and hawks is on to something?
...Hanssen was approached last year by Felix Kramer for help in building a dashboard monitor for a Prius that he and CalCars, his group of plug-in advocates, had converted into a crude plug-in....Hanssen recently showed off his prototype at the 2005 Tour de Sol, a green-car race in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where it didn't win but did deliver a fuel economy of 102 m.p.g. over a 150-mile course. The cost of charging the batteries? A buck. EnergyCS and Clean-Tech have launched a start-up called EDrive Systems, which plans to sell by next year kits to convert the Prius into a plug-in (though the modifications will void the warranty)...
Several U.S. utilities are supporting the technology. Plug-in cars would open a new market for electricity at night, when utilities have excess capacity. Ed Kjaer, director of electric transportation at Southern California Edison, argues that plug-ins represent a natural evolution of hybrid technology, which today essentially burns gas to generate electricity....George W. Bush, the former Texan oilman, has begun talking up corn ethanol and clean diesel and has endorsed a $4,000 tax credit for purchases of hybrid cars. That has not gone unnoticed by energy's new coalition of convenience, even if the President hasn't yet mentioned plug-in hybrids or bioethanol....Maybe 500 m.p.g. isn't so crazy after all.
Take This Car and PLUG It | Our newsletter version; Printable PDF (1.2MB)
IEEE Spectrum (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), July 2005
By Willie D. Jones
A funny thing happened on what U.S. policy makers thought was going to be the high road to a hydrogen economy....hybrids were seen in the United States as but a minor detour or way station en route to a world of hydrogen fuel cells. But they are suddenly looking like the main way to go, or even the ultimate destination....a derivative of hybrids that will improve fuel economy even more is poised to make what is already an undeniably attractive concept downright irresistible....The "Set America Free" report is based on two well-founded assumptions. One is that the hydrogen economy cannot be realized for at least a couple of decades...The other assumption is that U.S. consumers will be willing, even eager, to pay a premium of a few thousand dollars to get cars that are more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly....Ron Gremban, the lead technologist on CalCars' PRIUS+ project, concedes that the group's modified Prius does not perform as well as it might and costs more than itwould if produced by Toyota. But "a company with the resources of a Toyota, Honda, or General Motors could build a more elegant, full-function version for far less money," he believes.
Hybrid-Car Tinkerers Scoff at No-Plug-In Rule (subscription) | Our newsletter version; Printable PDF (110KB)
The New York Times, April 2, 2005
By Dannny Hakim
Ron Gremban and Felix Kramer have modified a Toyota Prius so it can be plugged into a wall outlet....[Toyota] has spent millions of dollars persuading people that hybrid electric cars like the Prius never need to be plugged in and work just like normal cars....But the idea of making hybrid cars that have the option of being plugged in is supported by a diverse group of interests, from neoconservatives who support greater fuel efficiency to utilities salivating at the chance to supplant oil with electricity....
"I've gotten anywhere from 65 to over 100 miles per gallon," said Mr. Gremban, an engineer at CalCars, a small nonprofit group based in Palo Alto, Calif....And EnergyCS, a small company that has collaborated with CalCars, has modified another Prius with more sophisticated batteries; they claim their Prius gets up to 180 m.p.g. and can travel more than 30 miles on battery power. "If you cover people's daily commute, maybe they'll go to the gas station once a month," said Mr. Kramer, the founder of CalCars."....fuel cells would require a complete reinvention of the automobile, not to mention the nation's gas stations, and the technology to put them on the road is still a long way from fruition...
"We think it's the only way to rekindle interest in electric transportation," said Robert Graham, who manages research into electric vehicles for the [Electric Power] Research Institute."...For power companies...the vehicles would also draw power mostly during off hours which would improve efficiency, because power plants cannot simply shut down at night as demand diminishes....
Roger Duncan, a deputy general manager of Austin Energy... said that "it's hard to say what impact it will have on the nation as a whole," but that in regions that use cleaner-than-average power sources, like Austin or California, it would provide a clear emissions benefit. Mr Duncan even imagines a day when drivers could be paid to return energy to the grid during times of excessive demand....With the help of dozens of volunteer engineers collaborating online, the group retrofitted a Prius in Mr. Gremban's garage....Mr. Duncan said the plug-in hybrid was "very realistic, because it's not that big a leap in technology." Look what Felix has done with Prius off the street," he added.
For CalCars' Response to Comments in NY Times story see: How Much Cleaner than a Gasoline Car is a PHEV Charged from the Dirty (Coal) Grid? (Section 3 of CalCars Vehicle page) and followup to the Business Week story below.
Imagine: 500 Miles Per Gallon | Printable PDF (15KB)
Newsweek, March 7, 2005
By Fareed Zakaria
The revolution is already with us....The next step is plug-in hybrids. Put all this technology together and you get the car of the future, a plug-in hybrid with a flexible-fuel tank....Tomorrow, President Bush could make the following speech:.."This revolution in energy use will reduce dramatically our dependence on foreign oil and achieve pathbreaking reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions, far below the targets mentioned in the Kyoto accords."
Giving Hybrids a Real Jolt | Our newsletter version; Printable PDF (110KB)
Business Week, April 11, 2005
By John Carey
Is there a car that can cut America's oil imports to a trickle, dramatically reduce pollution, and do it all with currently available technology? Greg Hanssen thinks so. His company has already built one such car -- a converted Toyota Prius that gets 100 to 180 mpg in a typical commute....These vehicles are quickly becoming the darlings of strange bedfellows: both conservative hawks and environmentalists, who see such fuel efficiency as key to ensuring national security and fighting climate change....Run the internal combustion engine on a blend of gasoline and biofuels like ethanol, and it would use almost no oil products at all. "That changes the world," says Frank J. Gaffney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy. "The only time you would have to gas up is when you go out of town," says Felix Kramer, who founded the nonprofit California Cars Initiative to promote plug-ins....Professor [Andy] Frank, 72, first began thinking about a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) years ago. "But now all the pieces are here," he says....Ordinary hybrids such as the Prius are already popular. Moving to plug-ins is the next logical step -- and the idea is getting high-level endorsements.
|Other CalCars and PHEV Press Coverage|
|See articles we haven't yet added to this list at the CalCars-News Archive|
|Jan. 6||Hydro to test plug-in hybrid|
Winnipeg Free Press
|Jan. 5||SuperFast Pizza Proves that Competition Improves the Breed|
|Winter '06||Why Buy a Hybrid Now?|
Green Light Online Magazine
|2 0 0 5|
|Dec. 19||Charged Up|
Fairfield County Business Journal
|Dec.12||Planning for a Future Not Dependent on Oil|
Seattle Times editorial column
|Dec. 5||An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come: Electric Vehicles|
Americans for Energy Independence
|Nov. 23||Five Ways to Cut Oil Use|
Minneapolis Star Tribune
|Nov. 16||Hacking the Hybrid Vehicle|
|Nov||What Kind of Car?|
Institute for Life Cycle Assessment, also appears in Solar Today Magazine
|Nov. 3||Toyota Mulls Dramatic Reversal, May Be Developinig Plug-In Hybrids|
Inside Fuels and Vehicles; also comment at Plugs, Power and People Blog and Toyota denies rumor
|Nov. 3||Hacking Hybrids|
|Nov. 2||Pimp My Prius|
The Wave Magazine, San Jose
|Nov||Are Plug-In Hybrids the Next Big Thing?|
Car & Driver Editor-in-chief Csaba Csere
|Oct-Nov.||Green My Ride|
|Oct.||Fueling the Future: Next-Generation Hybrid (cover story) and The Strong Silent Type|
|Oct. 24||Time to Take the Leap?|
|Oct. 22||Lieberman Proposal: Hybrid autos to combat man-made global warming|
|Oct. 20||Debate Over Clean Car Technology Rages On|
|Oct. 20||Should Investors Believe the Hybrid Hype?|
|Oct. 20||Electro Energy Advanced Technology to Power Hybrid Electric Vehicles for CalCars' PRIUS+ Program|
|Oct. 18||Energy Security Now a National Buzzword|
Jewish institute for National Security Affairs
|Oct. 10||Hot Rodder Has Plugged In for Better Gas Mileage|
Ramona Home Journal
|Oct. 7-10||John O'Dell's June 25 LA Times story returns in a second wave: Miami Herald, Newsday, etc.||Oct. 7||Lieberman calls for end to big oil, dependence on foreign oil|
Connecticut Journal-Register News Sevice
|Oct. 7||Be Ambitious|
Orlando Sentinel Editorial
|Oct. 1||Hot Times in the Old Sierra Nevada|
Sierra Citizen, Fall 2005
|Oct. 1||Adding an Electric Fuel Tank to a Hybrid (text) or PDF|
Green Car Journal "Voices" (Or get all 3 Green Car Journal articles in one 7-page PDF)
|Oct. 1||The Hybrid Connection|
Green Car Journal (PDF)
|Oct. 1||A Future of E-Hybrids|
Not Fuel Cells, Green Car Journal "Voices" (PDF)
|Sept||The Holy & the Hawks|
Audubon Magazine, includes evangelical conservatives
|Sept. 27||The Hazy Future of Hybrid Cars|
|Sept. 27||Pricey Gas Fuels Alternatives|
|Sept. 25||Car Rally Crackles|
San Jose Mercury News
|Sept. 25||The Way We Drive Now: New York Times Special Section on Hybrids includes profiles of CalCars associates|
See our evaluation + comments at blog
|Sept. 23||CalCars Engages with Designer/Architect William McDonough on Plug-Ins Development|
Green Car Congress
|Sept. 22||Plug-in hybrids: a here-and-now alternative|
Christian Science Monitor
|Sept. 21||The Promise of Plug-In Hybrids|
Mother Earth News
|Sept. 19||Rethinking Energy: In Katrina's Wake, VCs say Country Needs to Overhaul Infrastructure|
San Jose Mercury News + accompanying SiliconBeat blog discussions
|Sept. 18||Hybrids and biofuels would be a good fit for Minnnesota|
Minneapolis Star Tribune
|Sept. 18||Hybrid Vehicles Gaining on Competition in PA, NU|
Philadelphia Business Journal
|Sept. 16||Inside the PHEV Consortium|
EVWorld.com print + audio interview, Part 1. Part 2; at CalCars-News, text-only.
|Sept. 13||Driving Change: Interview with Green Car Congress Publisher Mike Millikin|
Mother Jones News
|Sept. 12||Hybrid Cars and Energy Talk|
San Jose Mercury News spotlights Felix Kramer's blog
|Sept. 10||The New Prize: Alternative Fuels|
NYTimes story on ethanol includes PHEVs
|Sept. 6|| Another Look at Fuel Efficiency|
|Sept. 3||Bennet Speaks to Utah County Businessspeople|
|Sept. 1||Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles|
|Aug. 31||It's time to get all those cars plugged in|
Globe and Mail of Canada (interview)
|Aug. 25||Biofueled hybrid cars a good bet|
Portland Maine Press-Herald
|Aug. 24||How does 250 MPG Sound?|
|Aug. 24||Power, Plugs and People|
launch of new blog by CalCars founder Felix Kramer
|Aug. 22-23||Reports on launch of Plug-In Austin local and national campaign:|
Austin Business Journal
Green Car Congress
|Aug. 21||New Cars Plug Into the Future|
Whittier Daily News and Pasadena Star News profile EnergyCS
|Aug. 16||The 500-MPG Car: A Pipedream or Full of Hot Air?|
New York Sun
|Aug. 16||Hot-Rod Heirs Customise Cars to Give 300MPG|
London Daily Telegraph
|Aug. 14||Engineers modify hybrid car to get up to 250 mpg|
Associated Press (Our newsletter version includes URLs for a few dozen of the hundreds of news sites and newspapers that printed the story
|Aug. 11||The PRIUS+: Plug-in power extends the hybrid's range|
by E Magazine editor Jim Motavalli
|Aug. 4||Amerique: La Folie Hybride (The Hybrid Craze)|
le Nouvel Observateur or Our newsletter version with English translation
|August 2||Dr. Paul MacCready Speaks Out...|
|August 2||Plug-In Prius Shown|
|August 1||Plug in to new hybrid concepts|
|July 25||Plug-In Hybrids: Electrifying Transportation|
Emerging Currents, The Emerging Technology Newsletter, issue #42, from E Source (a Platt's/McGraw Hill publication, available to subscribers, primarily in the electric utilities industry
|July 19||Clean Cars Breakthrough|
Huffington Report, includes lots of links
|Aug-Sept||PRIUS+: A Cleaner Hybrid|
Homepower magazine (pp. 44-48, print only)
|July 11||Making a Plug for Hybrids|
Wired News, includes CalCars and EDrive photos
|July 11||Energy Policy: A World With Less Oil|
Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
|June 28||CalCars Plans Commercial Spin-off for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles|
Green Car Congress reports on strategy for "Qualified Vehicle Modifier" company partnering with a major automaker to meet fleet demand.
|June 25||Plugged-In Hybrid Tantalizes Car Buffs|
John O'Dell, Los Angeles Times
|June 22||Cars That Run On Overnight Charge Catch Valley VC's Eyes|
CalCars' plans described by Mercury News venture capital columnist Matt Marshall; above link is to his SiliconBeat blog -- pointers to original article and includes CalCars' comments or PDF of all.
|June 21||About.com adds section on plug-in-hybrids||June 13||Columns at HybridCars.com: con by Walter McManus, pro by Kip Munro: "Hats off to the visionaries at CalCars"||June 14||Gas-Optional & Green|
|June 13||Power to the People|
Open Forum in San Francisco Chronicle plus her Blog (Last post Feb 2007)
|June 5||Tour of the Sun by Plug-In Hybrid|
EVWorld details on EDrive car's performance at Tour De Sol rally
|June 4||City Light focuses on plug-in hybrids|
|June 3||Naked City: Plug-in Car|
Austin Chronicle on EDrive's car visits Austin
|June||Rants & Raves|
Wired Magazine letter complimenting April cover story on hybrids but regretting lack of coverage of plug-in hybrids or PRIUS+.
|May 22||Charged Up|
Fresno Bee covers EDrive and CalCars
|May 20||Plug-in Hybrids|
|May 9||Energy Urgency Pervades Clean Cities Conference|
premium subscriber article at EVWorld or our excerpt
|May 9||A City in Texas Starts Smart-Energy Driving|
Hightower Lowdown newsletter (only page 1 of 5 viewable online)
|May 9||The Perils of Hands-On Diplomacy|
Time Magazine (or text or PDF)
|May 5||CalCars: The California Cars Initiative|
Chico News & Review
|May||Batteries Digest Newsletter|
(PDF-Hybrids article starts p.2)
|April 24||Electric car aficionados favor a hybrid that you plug in overnight|
San Francisco Chronicle
|April 16||Creating a Plug-In Toyota Prius|
GizMag (Australian print and web publication)
|April 7||Prius Gets a Plug|
Detroit Free Press Dashboard Notes
|April 6||Hybrid Checklist|
Union of Concerned Scientists calls PHEVs "final levelof hybridization," shows it as best option in checklist at new website, HybridCenter
|April 5||EVWorld establishes invaluable "Electric Hybrids"|
(Here's how we welcomed it.)
|March 29||New Plug-In Hybrid Based on the Prius Introduced|
Green Car Congress report on EnergyCS/Valence version of PRIUS+.
|March 28||Who's getting juiced about plug-in hybrids? or PDF|
Automotive News preview page for Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress.
|March 7||Meet the World's First 150 MPG Plug-In Prius or PDF|
About EnergyCS's version of PRIUS+, EVWorld, accompanying Interview (MPEG available only to subscribers).
|Feb. 5||Hawks Go Green With Hybrid Cars|
Dallas Morning News
|Jan. 27||Hybrids? Some Opt to Go All-Electric|
Christian Science Monitor or PDF; article reprinted in USA Today (or PDF).
Santa Cruz Metro
|2 0 0 4||Dec. 14||Report on PRIUS+ Project: Motivations and Status|
Green Car Congress or PDF
|Dec. 4||Why the Future is Hybrid|
The Economist or PDF
|May 1||Plug It In, Plug It In|
EVWorld or PDF or our excerpt.
|Blogs and Discussions|
|WIKIPEDIA (open source encyclopedia): articles on Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, Hybrid Vehicle and Prius.|
600 comments in first day after NYTimes article was published in lively threads at Slashdot (we encouraged posters to read our Fact Sheet found at PRIUS+).
Engadget pointed to Autoblog where much of focus is on its implications for Toyota Corp.
Good discussions (most recent listed last) at Geek.com ... PriusChat ... Signal vs. Noise ... C|NET TechNews TalkBack (below reprinted story) ... ZDNet TalkBack ... (John) Dvorak Uncensored...Ars Technica ...The Auto Prophet ... NewYorkGasPrices.com...ThomasNet Industrial Market Trends ... FuturePundit ... Tivo Community ... Wade Simmons ... Glass Onion ... Roger L. Simon ... HybridBlog ... After Gutenberg Posting #1 and AG#2 ... Daily Browse ..Green Hybrid ... Autoblog ... Daily Kos ... AltEng ...Wizbang...Standblog (francais) ... Treehugger ... Daily Kos...Segway Chat ... Digg.com ..(we stopped tracking thse for a while, resumed Feb '06):. Treehugger ... RealTechNews . Daily Kos (suggests financial support!) ... Technorati search results for blogs writing about CalCars...and Blogrunner tracks many links to NYTimes articles. (PLEASE TELL US ABOUT OTHERS) .